Helping Young People Help Themselves

IESE alumni and friends gather in Munich to support non-profits working with youth

March 21, 2017

Though Munich is one of the world´s wealthiest cities, it is still home to children and young people in need. IESE alumni and friends gathered there recently with non-profit organizations dedicated to working with youth to learn more about their efforts and ways to get involved.

Offering Meals, Job Training and Hope

A common thread of the evening, which was the kick-off for a new Social Impact Series and a platform for alumni interested in charity and volunteering, was “help for self-help”.

In their work, the organizations have followed different paths toward the same goal: providing positive role models for young people and helping them find the motivation to change their lives for the better. The organizations present were:

  • Mary’s Meals, which is no stranger to IESE, since alumni and staff have supported the worldwide organization for a number of years with charity runs and other events. Mary’s Meals today reaches 1.2 million children in the world´s poorest countries, offering them one meal every school day so that they may gain an education and a better future.
  • Dein München was founded by Mara Bertling because she felt that poverty, especially poverty among children, did not receive enough public attention in Munich. Her NGO works with schools, youth centers and shelters to reach out to children and youth to improve their access to cultural activities, education and personality development workshops.
  • Kinderhospiz München, run by Christine Bronner, provides support to terminally ill children and their siblings.
  • JOBLINGE, created as a job orientation program for German school drop-outs without professional training, today also helps young refugees find job training in German companies. Founded in Munich, the organization is now establishing a national presence in major German cities.

Private Donations and Corporate Partners

The initiatives can only continue with private donations, since state subsidies do not cover their expenses. All four organizations stressed their transparency in handling donations.

Beyond individual gifts are corporate partnerships. While smaller and middle-sized companies prefer to support a single NGO to establish a lasting collaboration, larger companies and corporations look for several NGOs to support so as to spread their charitable activities.

The groups agreed that CSR-managers prefer to see structure and professionalism as well as one point of contact at the non-profit partner, which for the NGOs requires additional funds to employ professionals.

Changing Yourself by Helping Others

In addition to helping others, the talk touched on how volunteering changes the volunteer, offering an enriching experience that provides a sense of purpose beyond daily tasks.

The work may also test a person´s ability to handle frustration, the groups noted, since it often involves dealing with teenagers who, quite naturally, may not want to react the way an adult would like them to.

But given the interest shown over the course of the evening – several participants signed up as mentors for JOBLINGE it was clear that participants saw the life-changing potential of the organizations work.