Editor’s note: This is a two-part series in which we share the stories of both employees who give time and money, and the grantees with whom we partner, to spotlight the people behind the eBay Foundation’s giving efforts.
eBay has a strong culture of giving that extends through every level of what we do, and behind each act of giving is an individual who is passionate about the organizations and causes they support. In this year of many challenges, our employees have seamlessly adapted to give both time and money in a new virtual environment — and the eBay Foundation has provided the framework to bring our purpose to life and help empower small businesses and entrepreneurs to succeed through financial and programmatic support. Over $1 million of employee giving this year has been matched by the eBay Foundation, with more than 2,500 global employees donating their time and money.
Our Impact Teams around the world provide the spark that encourages many eBay employees to support their local communities. This group of dedicated eBayers helps connect colleagues to local causes and promote global programs that support our employees’ passion for giving in our communities. There are 17 Impact Teams in 12 countries around the world, all led by employees who volunteer their time to organize local employee engagement activities and play a vital role in helping promote the efforts of the eBay Foundation. An example of one of the programs they championed is the employee-led grant initiative, the Global Give.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic necessitating virtual volunteering in many parts of the world, I’m inspired by how Impact Team Leaders have reimagined ways of connecting, keeping the needs of their colleagues and local communities at the heart of everything they do,” said Allie Ottoboni, eBay Foundation President.
Here are two amazing stories of Impact Team Leaders from around the world.
Pulling Together in a Tough Year
Alex Hiatt is a Senior Manager of the Home & Garden category with the U.K. Trading Team. Based in London, Alex co-leads the U.K. Impact Team — an active group that pulls together outreach efforts and fundraising projects year round to send financial support and supplies where they feel the need is greatest.
This past January, Alex and the U.K. Impact team helped organize a bake sale to raise funds for the Australia bushfire crisis, supporting the Australian Red Cross and the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors. Then COVID-19 started its spread around the world, and all volunteering plans veered drastically off course. “By the end of March, with everyone inundated with bad news, local teammates reacted by asking, ‘What is our power in this situation, and what can we do to support our community during this time?’” Alex said. “The team’s passion and interest to support local communities this year has been amazing and just exploded as a reaction to the pandemic.”
The U.K. Impact Team immediately sprang into action with six different initiatives that directly responded to the pandemic. The first event was a virtual trivia game, that both served to raise money for the Trussell Trust and Age UK a, and also acted as a critical opportunity to bring the U.K. team together. “We all felt a bit lost as a team at the onset of the lockdown. We needed to come together and unify, and the easy-going pub quiz was a great place to start,” Alex said.
Staff at Refettorio Felix collecting essentials for Londoners in need during the pandemic
Subsequent efforts ramped up quickly and included a collaboration with the U.K. Facilities team to donate food from the office to a London homeless shelter, Refettorio Felix at St Cuthbert’s; donating technology supplies to people now working from home in partnership with the Electrical Trading Team; working with sellers to pay for donation of thousands of toiletries, games and appliances to British nonprofits; and a virtual mentorship program involving over a dozen Impact Team members for Hatch, a local entrepreneur-supporting organization and 2020 Global Give: Rapid Response winner.
All the roadblocks from the pandemic ended up prompting new ways of thinking for Alex and her Impact Team. “2020 has presented the challenge to get creative,” Alex said. “The arch of thinking this year has been ‘why don’t we just try this?’ and that’s been really inspiring. We’ve branched out to new strategies like auctions to get our community the physical donations they need.” The auction, run on Dec. 4, raised over £900.
On a more personal level, Alex has found that her experience volunteering as an Impact Team leader has added richness to her career and interactions with colleagues. A crisis volunteer in her spare time for Shout Crisis Text Line, a mental health tech service provider, Alex brings her commitment for giving to her work. “It has allowed me to unlock my potential and help colleagues unlock their own,” she said. “It’s inspired me to try new things and meet new people, to create broader and more varied connections. And in 2020, it’s taken me out of sitting at a computer in my spare bedroom to spark unexpected connections with others.”
Finding New Ways to Connect
Leading the Bay Area Impact Team at eBay’s San Jose, California headquarters, Kailyn Nguyen has also found both challenges and opportunities for inventiveness over the course of the past year. As an Executive Admin in the Buyer Experience Team, Kailyn has found this to be a year like no other.
Kailyn enjoying her sabbatical this summer with her family
As a result of the pandemic, Kailyn said that the Impact Team had to make a quick switch from in-person to virtual volunteering. “The amount of activity was dramatically reduced this year in terms of physical volunteering activities,” she said. “But on the flip side, I’ve learned a lot more about virtual volunteering opportunities that are available across the globe and it’s opened up another door of possibilities on how people engage or get involved.”
Kailyn helped the Impact Team coordinate COVID support activities, such as donating school supplies to students at Valle Vista Elementary School in San Jose; collecting a pallet full of surplus office snacks to donate to Sacred Heart; taking part in wellness call efforts to seniors in Santa Clara County with Sourcewise; and organizing a virtual trivia and scavenger hunt game to raise funds for COVID-relief efforts for United Way Bay Area. She has also linked friends and family members with nonprofits in need of face masks and PPE supplies as well as taking part herself in virtual volunteering — and she now regularly spends several hours a week doing so.
Donating a pallet full of surplus office snacks to Sacred Heart
One nonprofit in particular, Zooniverse, has become a favorite of Kailyn’s for its breadth of scientific research opportunities as she helped analyze cancer cell images, transcribed the work of astronomers and counted cells on fossil leaves to help track climate change as projects for the people-powered research platform. “What started as a means for escape during shelter in place became a learning experience and enlightenment on the possibilities of virtual volunteering,” she said. To help others find causes that call to them, Kailyn pulled together a comprehensive list of global virtual volunteering opportunities that she has shared with all eBay employees.
Whether in a pandemic or not, Kailyn also appreciates the importance of leading through giving and the wealth of opportunities it affords her. “Being part of the Impact Team has allowed me to not only connect with teammates, but it has allowed me to connect with nonprofit organizations around the world,” she said. “eBay has allowed me to bring ideas to fruition, drive change and build lifelong relationships between people and causes they care about. I have met colleagues who never before volunteered but have now made it part of their lives. If I could play a small part in that, it’s more than I could ask for.”
Learn more about our mission and impact work at ebayinc.com/impact.