Interview: Vodafone Foundation

Based in Great Britain, the Vodafone Foundation has been combining charitable giving and technology to make a difference in the world for 26 years under the motto “Connecting for Good”,

In Greece, the Vodafone Foundation was established in 2002 to support projects and programs adapted to the needs of the Greek society. These projects mainly focus on Health, Education and Social Integration. During its 16 years of active involvement, the Foundation has worked with over 84 agencies and organizations. Only last year, over 754 000 citizens have benefitted from Vodafone’s outreach.

Mrs Rouli Christopoulou, Manager of the Department for Sustainable Development and Social Contribution at Vodafone Greece, answers our questions about support to Non-Profit Organizations.

1. The Vodafone Foundation, with its motto «Connecting for Good», is active in many sectors. Do you have any priorities?

The Vodafone Foundation has been active in Greece since 2002. With the phrase “Connecting for Good” summarizing our philosophy, we combine our social contribution with telecommunication technologies. Our aim is to meet significant and permanent needs in health, education and social integration.

Accordingly, we support projects and programs that contribute to improving the living conditions of vulnerable social groups and meeting the basic needs of Greek society.

We are currently financing the following programs: Telemedicine Vodafone Program, STEMpowering Youth in cooperation with SciCo, the Epikentro of ActionAid, the Workshops of creative activities of SOS Children’s Villages, the humanitarian crises management program Instant Network & Instant Classroom, and World of Difference. Our goal is to support programs that last several years, thus increasing their impact and number of beneficiaries.

2. Do you accept applications for funding? If so, what information do you need to receive during the first contact and how long does it take to review applications?

Vodafone Foundation seeks to create stable cooperative relationships with entities and organizations, and implement long-term programs jointly – as opposed to fragmenting our forces and resources on ad hoc donations – in order to maximize our social “footprint”.

In this context, the programs we will be supporting this year are already defined. However, we remain open to new ideas and proposals for innovative projects in the sector of health and education using telecommunication technology (e.g. telecommunication networks, Internet of Things, big data, smart devices) for the common good. An example of this usage of Telecommunication Technology is the “Big Data for Good” program, which Vodafone Foundation recently presented in Ghana. By using large volumes of data (big data), the program seeks to identify, control, and prevent the spreading of diseases. Similarly, the Vodafone Foundation DreamLab application in Australia collects data from smartphones, which are idle during the night, so that users can contribute to cancer research much faster, on behalf of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

The first contact can be made by sending an email to [email protected] describing the project, presenting how telecommunication technology can be used, and specifying the amount of funding requested.

3. Can you tell us about the World of Difference program?

Vodafone Foundation supports projects that focus on improving access to healthcare. education and social integration. Along with other programs, we have been supporting the work of Non-Profit Organizations in all these sectors for eight years through the World of Difference program.

With World of Difference, the Vodafone Foundation gives young people the opportunity to participate in the charitable work of organizations of their own choosing. They are remunerated for their services for six months, develop skills, gain work experience with a strong social “footprint”, and contribute to the viability of the organizations themselves. This program is aimed at young people who can and want to make a difference, stand out for their knowledge, ideas, and vision, and have the right skill set to leave a mark in a wide range of social groups.

For the selection of candidates, both candidates and projects are assessed on the basis of their humanitarian and charitable value; other criteria include: can the project be implemented in six months? Does the project increase the sustainability of the organization? What are the anticipated results? In line with our philosophy «Connecting for Good», we are particularly interested in projects that leverage the potential of telecommunication technologies for the public good, such as the GIVMED app for surplus drugs, the platform The Tipping Point – a form of modern academic and vocational guidance – and the app Prosvasis of Node Interactive Knowledge Transfer – InterMediaKT, improving accessibility for people with disabilities.

4. What were the main reasons to launch the World of Difference program?

Vodafone Foundation wants to invest in young people and create job opportunities as we recognize the unique role that young people’s knowledge, ideas and vision can play in Greek society. “World of Difference”, one of the projects implemented by the Vodafone Foundation in this direction, has a double goal: promote youth employment while improving the work of Non-Profit Organizations.

5. Why should a young person apply to the World of Difference program?

A program that gives you the opportunity to work for 6 months in an organization of your choice – holding a position you can agree on – sounds like a very attractive offer. You can gain work experience, cultivate your skills, and upgrade your CV. Also, these organizations are of public interest and enable you to support the real needs of society by leaving your own footprint. I think these are two very good reasons to apply. Having worked very closely with NGOs through the previous years, we have learned that they are unique hubs of talents and skills, which may not have been cultivated in a different environment. Trying to make the most of minimal resources makes you creative, inventive, bold and efficient. It encourages you to think out of the box to find solutions. And if we also consider the personal satisfaction you get from tackling difficult situations, helping vulnerable fellow citizens, or finding a solution to social or environmental issues, this program is not only a career booster but a real-life experience.

6. Within the framework of the World of Difference program, how do you assess the impact of a project?

The organizations we collaborate within this program are required to send us a quarterly progress report and a final report on the six-month work of the individual. Each activity report should demonstrate the effectiveness of the project and the difference made by the winner through his work in the organization, quoting specific and analytical quantitative and qualitative data. The aim is to highlight the social benefit (in the short and long-term) resulting from each project.


Vodafone World of Difference – Winners 2018

For the 8th consecutive year, the Vodafone World of Difference Program gives young people the opportunity to work for 6 months in a Non-Profit Organization of their choice. This year, the program increased the number of positions from 10 to 15, for which the Vodafone Foundation will cover salaries and employers’ contributions.

After hundreds of applications, the Vodafone Foundation through the World of Difference Program welcomes 15 new people who have managed to make a difference in the ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation, who have promoted access to knowledge and education, created equal opportunities for vulnerable social groups, increased healthcare and birth rates, and supported the work of the following Agencies:

Interactive Knowledge Transfer node – InterMediaKT, Unique Minds, The Tipping Point, Reading for Others, B.I.C. of Crete, Agricultural Business & Innovation Center of Crete (Rural Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center of Crete), HOPE Genesis, Humane Social Enterprise, Melissa Network, Colour Youth – LGBTQ Youth Community of Athens, Athens Makerspace, Center for Rehabilitation, Social Support and Creative Employment of People with Disabilities “Sotir”, Ethelon, Arsis – Youth Support Organization, Hospitality, Challedu.

Further information on the Program, the winners and their work can be found here:

Please visit the Vodafone Foundation website.

We are very grateful to Mrs Rouli Christopoulou and the Vodafone Foundation for this interview.

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