Doing more with less: working with intermediaries

Doing more with less: working with intermediaries

Liz Hamburg, Taproot (US)
Uschi Erb, Bavarian Network of Volunteer Centers (Germany)
Hannah Van Basshuysen, Audi (Germany)
Laetitia Gill, Philias (Switzerland)
Sharon Tal, Ruach Tova (Israel)

Moderator: Armin Pialek, BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt (Germany)

In this session, four intermediary organizations shared their experiences of supporting corporations in the development and management of corporate volunteering programs in times of increased staffing and budget constraints. 

As expectations of corporations to offer volunteer opportunities are rising around the world, intermediaries provide the knowledge about the different models that deliver meaningful opportunities in a manageable way. Sharon Tal of Rucha Tova in Israel, for example, presented the Good Deeds Day – a relatively easy, scalable volunteering model where the activities are concentrated to one day. Laetitia Gill of Philias presented the hand, heart, and brain model – a model based on corporations providing a wide range of different volunteer opportunities to utilize the heterogenic abilities and expectations of employees. Liz Hamburg of Taproot gave a brief insight into a specific kind of ‘highly skilled’ volunteering referred as pro bono – where employees use their core professional skills to support nonprofits at no cost to the organization. Finally Hannah Van Basshuysen of Audi and Uschi Erb of the Bavarian Network of Volunteer Centers shared how they work together locally to support nonprofits around Audi’s plant in Ingolstadt.

These presentations exposed the crucial role intermediaries play in the development of corporate volunteering program and their ability to help manage programs effectively. Intermediaries understand nonprofits structures, can vet projects, and execute the different volunteering models effectively like the von Tal example demonstrated. This engagement reduces the risk of failure and the transaction costs as well. In addition, it became evident that an increasing number of corporations are looking to run international volunteer programs. At the same time those programs need to be managed locally, as the example of Audi illustrated. Within Germany alone, Audi works with several intermediary partners at their various offices.

Prepared by Armin Pialek, Session Moderator


Presentation by 
Hannah Van Basshuysen, Audi 
Uschi Erb, Bavarian Network of Volunteer Center

Presentation by 
Sharon Tal, Ruach Tova

Presentation by 
Liz Hamburg, Taproot

HANNAH VAN BASSHUYSEN is a project manager in Corporate Responsibility with AUDI AG and leads all regional corporate volunteering projects. Her master’s thesis focused on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) communication as a crucial factor in the internationalization of companies, within the context of the development of Audi’s newest plant in Mexico.

SHARON TAL is the CEO of Ruach Tova. Established in 2003, Ruach Tova promotes various initiatives aimed to improve social cohesion and involvement in Israel. The NGO is a one-stop shop for volunteering in Israel, serving individuals, groups and corporations, it is the organizer of the annual and global Good Deeds Day as well as the local branch of a global educational program – Design for Change.

LIZ HAMBURG is the President and CEO of Taproot Foundation, which drives social change by leading, mobilizing, and engaging professionals in pro bono service. Liz has been an active board member and advisor to non-profits and social entrepreneurs and has over 20 years of experience starting up and growing innovative businesses both in the U.S. and international markets.

USCHI ERB founded the volunteer center of Ingolstadt (Freiwilligenagentur Ingolstadt) and has been leading it since 2008. Her expertise in running volunteer centers has allowed her to be involved as a consultant and also a member of the board of directors of BAGFA (Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft der Freiwilligenagenturen e.V.), the federal association of volunteer agencies.

LAETITIA GILL is the Director of Membership and Development at Philias, a network of 30 companies active in CSR as well as 400 NGOs from across Switzerland. Laetitia supports businesses in defining CSR strategies and implementation, structuring concepts, evaluating partnership programs, benchmarking competitors’ methods; she also leads training for NGOs on corporate partnerships.


ARMIN PIALEK is a Project Manager at the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, coordinating the cooperation with the Taproot Foundation in New York and San Francisco. The aim is to bring professional Pro Bono Services to Germany and support the Global Pro Bono Network. Armin also supports international expansion and manages the relationship with Mitost in Russia.