20 years of the Benefactor of the Year!
20 years of the Benefactor of the Year!

For last twenty years almost 1,700 companies have strived for the Benefactor of the Year title. On May 29, 2017 the Gala was held in the Marriott Hotel, Warsaw and the winners of the jubilee round of the competition were announced. The Gala made also an excellent opportunity to sum up history and achievements of this initiative, promoting the idea of social responsibility of businesses in Poland.


“The beginnings were not easy. I remember my efforts to contact entrepreneurs twenty years ago. My interlocutors would get silent and hang off as soon as they heard a word ‘philanthropy’. However, it should be remembered how difficult was the situation of new enterprises in Poland at that time. Nevertheless, it soon turned out that Polish entrepreneurs understand the sense of philanthropy and responsibility and that more and more frequent examples of their involvement are worth promoting - showing and awarding,” says Paweł Łukasiak, President of Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland.



The Benefactor of the Year title is awarded to firms that are socially involved and support NGOs. That is the biggest competition of its kind in Poland, and has become an inspiration for many regional initiatives. Since 1997 it has been promoting socially responsible entrepreneurship, inspiring businesses to carry out activities benefitting their neighborhood, and giving the organizations an opportunity to thank their sponsors and partners. The today’s rank of the competition is the result of 20 years of regular work and involvement.


“The twentieth round of the Benefactor of the Year competition is a special event in the history of Polish philanthropy. For two decades the competition organizers have determined directions of Polish business social involvement. The competition, which is a pioneer, bold and innovative initiative, year after year presented more and more impressive examples of socially useful and worth following activities and models of partner cooperation between businesses and NGOs,” said Jerzy Koźmiński, President of the Polish-American Freedom Foundation and Chairman of the Competition Committee.



The jubilee round of the competition was carried out under the slogan of “Choose the Good” which was a metaphor for impact of consumer behavior on the surrounding reality. Through the awareness campaign the organizers wanted to show that it is worth “Doing Good All Year Round” (the slogan of earlier rounds) but also encourage others to do that through their choices. Consumer decisions have power which is still underestimated; they give consumers ability to influence attitudes and involvement of firms by choosing products and services of socially responsible businesses.


The Benefactor of the Year 2017 title was won by:


• In the Local Involvement category – Mars Polska Sp. z o.o.
The company established close contacts with Sochaczew County NGOs Alliance (POPPS). In 2016, it supported badminton and chess tournaments, as well as the River Bzura canoe cleaning, educational picnic, Senioriada – that is a picnic aimed at activation of the old and the sick, and many other events. It encourages residents of small towns and villages to care for common good and participate in Act Locally program. Apart from material support, the company also engages its employees in voluntary activities for the benefit of local society.


• In the Social Involvement Strategy – Small/Medium Size Company category – Agencja Interaktywna SukcesFirmy.pl
The Agency in cooperation with Klinika Włosów Hair LAB has organized the Share the Childhood campaign to increase social awareness of hair losing and alopecia in children. Its objective is to encourage people to grant hair that can be used for producing non-surgical toupees and wigs that give a chance to a child to function normally and have a happy childhood.


• In the Social Involvement Strategy – Large Company - DB Schenker
For carrying out many CSR projects, such as employee volunteering (53 projects for over 6,000 beneficiaries in local communities), transporting support for a Noble Parcel and preparing 9 Noble Parcels worth about PLN 30,000 by DB Schenker employees in 2016, transporting Food Banks bounties, and distribution of the Our Earth Foundation promotional materials.


• In the Corporate Foundation – Social Project category – Adamed Group Foundation
Since 2014, the Foundation has been running the Adamed StartUP scientific and educational project under which it supports especially talented young people in development of their interest in science (biology, mathematics, chemistry or physics). Furthermore, it supports scientists by co-financing their research or offering financial support for studies at universities abroad.


• In the Social Project – Small Company category – Stanpol S.C. Sklep pszczelarski (Beekeepers shop) Warsaw
For involvement in S.O.S. Friends Association activities, among other things in A Drop of Sweetness project addressed to several hundred small patients of oncology wards in Warsaw hospitals and care institutions and assistance given to S.O.S. Friends Association in implementing the Educational Bee Yard initiative. Additionally, the company supports development of beekeeping in Poland by making the apiarian products and equipment available for the beekeepers community.


• In the Social Project – Middle-sized Company category: Delia Cosmetics Sp. z o.o.
Under its program of CSR activities in 2016, Delia supported Gajusz Foundation, an NGO. They provided toiletries and volunteer assistance to incurable children in hospices. Also, they bought medicines and dressing materials. Apart from that, the company offered financial support (in form of grants, donations, pay-rolls) and in-kind assistance, including pro-bono services. It all went to centers and hospices run by the Foundation, that is the home hospice, oncological ward and inpatient hospice.


• In the Social Project – Large Company category: Carrefour Polska Sp. z o.o.
For systemic approach to the problem of wasting food. The company offers yearly to Food Banks ca 180 ton of food products with short time to expiry date. It also makes available the shop space for food collection campaigns. This allows many Poles show their compassion and share their shopping with those who are in need.


• In the New Technologies in Social Involvement category – Bank Handlowy w Warszawie SA (Citi Handlowy)
CSR initiatives on behalf of the Bank are carried out by Leopold Kronenberg Foundation. It is a tradition of the Bank, to act as a culture and art patron and carry out numerous initiatives in cultural heritage area. In cooperation with Communni Hereditate Foundation, it has designed and published an ArtSherlock application which allows to check if a piece of work you look at is in the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage data base of lost works of art. The application is accompanied by information and educational activities addressed both to state bodies such as Border Guard, Police, or diplomatic service but also hobbyists and lovers of the art.


• In the Employee Volunteering category – Bank Handlowy w Warszawie SA (Citi Handlowy).

The City Employee Volunteering program has been carried out since 2005. The employee volunteers support has already benefitted over 241,000 people all over Poland. In 2016 the Bank Handlowy employees were involved in volunteering work over 3,700 times, in 256 educational, recreational, and renovation projects; they supported shelters, did cleaning works. They worked for a total of over 19,000 hours for the benefit of local communities and their efforts benefitted 33,000 people.


Also during the Gala, the special statuettes were presented to organizations and people who supported the Competition and CSR development in Poland. The title of a Friend of Competition went to: Responsible Business Forum, Employers of Poland, Business Centre Club, Lewiatan Confederation, Jerzy Karwelis, The Polish-American Freedom Foundation, Global Compact Network Poland, Kazimierz Krupa, Bolesław Rok, Polish Donors Forum, EY and Anna Popek.



For the 20th anniversary the report on history of the Competition, its winners and partners was published. It contains also 20 exclusive interviews on business social responsibility and philanthropy in Poland, and among the interviewed were Prof. Jerzy Buzek, Jerzy Stuhr, Tomasz Majewski, Natalia Partyka, Sylwia Chutnik, ks. Jacek Stryczek, and Jerzy Owsiak.


The competition is organized by the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland, an association established in 1998. The mission of the Academy is to inspire and assist in acting. Its achievements include programs and campaigns that are the social brands. It supports local communities, awards socially responsible businesses and triggers will to help in people.


The 20th jubilee round of the Competition was financed by the Polish-American Freedom Foundation, which has been supporting the Competition since 2002 and is the patron of Local involvement category promoting social activity of businesses that cooperate with Act Locally Centers to introduce permanent changes in local communities. The Auditor of the Competition procedures was EY. The Voting Partners were Firma AMS and PGE Stadion Narodowy. The Gala Partners were Marriott Warsaw, KAYAX Music, BSC, and the Gala Patron was the Ministry of Development. The Competition was supported by: Polish Donors Forum, Lewiatan Confederation, Business Centre Club, Responsible Business Forum, Employers of Poland, Global Compact Network Poland, Freshmail. The Sector Partners of the 20th round were: Gazeta Wyborcza, Wyborcza.biz, CR Navigator, Kampaniespołeczne.pl, Marketing przy kawie, NGO.pl, Odpowiedzialny biznes.pl.


By Weronika Chrapońska-Chmielewska, the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland
Photo: the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland