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2021 a pivotal year   |   Impact in 2021  |   Capitalizing skills learnings  |   Approaching the future


Capitalizing on skills and learnings to increase impact

Capitalizing on skills and learnings to increase impact

From the work done within our Adapting to Climate Change pillar since the launch of the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance (the Alliance), we have extracted some important learnings and insights that can be transferred across all our activities, starting with replicating success in one country to the other 20 countries where the Alliance is active. We also apply these learnings in the new urban climate resilience pilots we decided in 2021.

Another example in our Improving Mental Wellbeing pillar: we have started our first global program launched in collaboration with UNICEF. This partnership reflects a common vision: a world where every young person is supported to improve mental wellbeing. One of the ways we aim to achieve this is by building a Global Coalition for Youth Mental Wellbeing. Through this coalition, we are seeking to bring together public and private sector actors who are willing to take action to promote the positive mental wellbeing of young people—including by scaling up the programs piloted as part of our partnership —and to support global and local advocacy on the importance of investing in mental health promotion and prevention for adolescents.

This coalition aims to engage members to:

  • Advocate and communicate: leveraging the channels, reach, expertise and influence of its members to advocate for change.
  • Invest and support: presenting opportunities for investment in mental wellbeing which can achieve significant impact
  • Learn and share: offer cutting-edge insights, peer-to-peer exchange and learning opportunities on relevant topics.

Spotlight – why 2021 was a pivotal year for the Alliance

At community level, our interventions have lasting impact. These are largely made up of improvements in human and social capital (knowledge, skills and social structures), often delivered as multiple interventions in communities.

Their scaling and replication is the first indication that our focus on driving systems change is also bearing fruit. There is a lot of government interest in the  Zurich Flood Resilience Measurement for Communities (FRMC) approach and data. Examples include government take-up and replication of interventions, such as community brigades in Mexico, and funding additional scale in Peru. As programs embed and are adopted by governments, the potential to scale up increases. Therefore, we are very confident to have further success to report in coming years.

The potential scale-up from Nepal reflected in initial reach numbers suggests that we will have further success to report in coming years.

Playing the Long Game – The Peru Principles 

What is happening in Peru, through the work of the Alliance, is a great example of how impact increases and multiplies over time. In addition to impact, looking at long-term programs is also essential to change the system. The established programs help to strengthen foundations, support advocacy strategy and reinforce relationship building with local actors, creating more opportunities to engage and encourage others to contribute and invest resources. 

When COVID-19 struck, many organizations had to stop their community-program. It was not the case for the Alliance which successfully adapted the work and continued to deliver impact. 

The Alliance will shortly publish its learning report where you will find more info on the work done in Peru and its overall progress and impact in 2021. 

Engaging Zurich employees and our wider stakeholder group across the world

At the Z Zurich Foundation, we believe there is an activist in all of us. For us, activism could be a Zurich employee volunteering for a local charity event or encouraging others in their team to stand up for issues in their communities. And it could be uniting organizations and governments to bring policy-level changes that benefit the many. We take pride in redefining what a corporate foundation can be by getting fully involved with the causes we champion, on the ground, day after day.

Our fundraising campaign to support UNICEF and the COVAX Facility to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to the most vulnerable worldwide was one example of how our stakeholders mobilized their network to impact and help those most in need. In 2021, we have continued to open our engagement initiatives to focus on Zurich employees and provide opportunities for other like-minded people and organizations to help us maximize charitable impact.

In support of Unicef


  • Hackathon in LATAM
  • MyImpact

In September 2021, in collaboration with NEXT and with support from Rigou Consultores, we launched our first Hackathon across the Latin America region with the aim of gathering Zurich employee volunteers and inviting them to use their skills and passion to help local charities tackle some of their challenges and perform capacity building. About 40 participants participated in three days of activities, working alongside five NGOs who had identified fundraising as a major need in different organizations interviewed across the region.

All volunteers considered that participation in the Hackathon contributed to the development of skills that they can use in their workplace. All the NGOs involved considered that the aim of their participation in the Hackathon was fulfilled to a very high degree.

“An extremely interesting process to go through, and the result was excellent: in three days we did what would have taken us months. The volunteers, in addition to their enthusiasm, contributed personal skills that added (a lot) to the development of the project. The people whom we had the opportunity to interview were extraordinary” Anabella Maudet, Fundación Integrar.

Watch Anabella’s testimony and listen to Diego Hernández, Z Zurich Foundation champion in Colombia and volunteer.

Following the success of this pilot, we are conducting similar initiatives in 2022 in Asia Pacific, Europe Middle East and Africa, and North America and Bermuda.

What would you highlight about the experience?

“Visualize the strength of collaboration between companies and social organizations. Ability to collaborate with transformation” 
Zurich employee in Argentina

“Meet people with big hearts”  
Zurich employee in Ecuador

“Collective empathy, respect for diversity of opinions, trust in collaborative work”  
Zurich employee in Argentina

“The opportunity to find solutions to problems, the humanization and the heart put into it”  
Zurich employee in Colombia

Offsetting our digital event

To offset the environmental impact of the activity, we measured its carbon footprint. During the Hackathon, emissions were quantified from the computers of 37 volunteers, nine representatives of NGOs and five facilitators. Total emissions were 0,0496485 tnCO2eq and will be offset by the Foundation.


Bringing activism opportunities closer to Zurich employees with the launch of MyImpact

MyImpact is a volunteering and fundraising digital platform that the Foundation launched in April 2021. Throughout 2021, and continuing in 2022, we are rolling out this tool to support Zurich employees in their personal activism journey. This platform is currently available in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States, and is empowering Zurich employees to create a positive impact in their local community. The charities we support as well as other organizations can use this platform to connect with Zurich employees for different types of volunteering, such as skill-based. We also use this platform to launch large fundraising campaigns.

“MyImpact is an excellent platform that enables us to make donations which are automatically dollar matched by the Z Zurich Foundation, to donate tax-effectively through payroll giving and importantly, to find and create volunteering opportunities. We aspire for MyImpact to become the ‘one stop community shop’ in Australia." Vanessa Kredler, Community Project Manager, Customer and Corporate Affairs Zurich Financial Services Australia 

  • Community Hero Awards

    Our Community Hero Awards recognize Zurich employees who make significant contributions in their communities. Employees can nominate colleagues for activities, including fundraising, volunteering and campaigning. Each winner receives a one-off donation of CHF 25,000. In 2021, we awarded 16 individuals or teams for going above and beyond to support their local communities. Zurich Group’s CEO Mario Greco and the Foundation’s Board of Trustees and Management Team presented the awards at a virtual ceremony in November.

    Video from Antonio Bico, Zurich Portugal CEO, who won the Outstanding Leadership Award. 

  • Spotlight on Zurich’s Pro Bono Committee

    In 2021, the Zurich North America Legal Services Pro Bono Committee received the Foundation’s Community Hero Award. The committee also celebrated its 10-year anniversary. Last year, nearly 70 percent of legal professionals across Zurich North America provided a broad range of volunteer services, such as advising nonprofits, representing individuals in immigration proceedings and fielding intake calls for Equip for Equality, which works to advance the human and civil rights of children and adults with disabilities in Illinois. Since 2012, Zurich pro bono team members have donated more than 1,800 hours to Equip for Equality’s Special Education Helpline. As part of the Community Hero award, the pro bono team split its prize equally between the Chicago Bar Foundation and Pro Bono Ontario in Canada. Separately, in honor of the pro bono team’s anniversary, we also donated USD 10,000 to Equip for Equality. Zurich Group Legal function is now expanding this pro bono program globally.