SOCIAL CHANGE POWERED BY THE PEOPLE OF HAVAS LYNX GROUP.
Vikki Ward, Chief Production Officer, shares how the philanthropic culture of Havas Lynx Group grew into a fully organized and branded mission known as #High5ives.
What is the #High5ives initiative at Havas Lynx Group?
We have a great time doing what we do and working hard to push the future of healthcare forward. But we know that some people are striving just to get by and that’s really hard. So, where we can, we try to help. As an agency, it’s an important part of our mission to bring about helpful change. And as citizens of the cities we live in, and the world in general, we think it’s just the right thing to do. #High5ives, our platform for supporting and enabling social change, both globally and locally, is powered by our people. Together, through this platform, we’ve donated blood and spare foreign currency, given our time and our creativity, helping those without shelter in Manchester, and those without money for a school in Rwanda. We’re forever humbled by the incredible things the organizations we support manage to achieve with the small help we can give. And none of it would be possible without the 400 amazing people that work at the Havas Lynx Group. Without them, #High5ives wouldn’t be possible. We’re most definitely stronger together and can make truly meaningful differences in our society.
How did this idea come to fruition?
In 2013 our colleague Tim Woodcock decided he was qualified, and inspiringly insane enough, to take on the Marathon Des Sables, which is the toughest footrace on earth. The race includes 6 days and 156 miles in 120-degree heat over a desert terrain with all sorts of other desert deadliness.
Tim took it on with the intention to get through it, but also to raise as much money as possible for Excellent Development, an organization that supports some of the world’s poorest people in transforming their own lives through water and soil conservation in drylands.
After hearing about this, we decided there was no way he was going to do this on his own. I mean, there was no way we were going to literally run it with him, but we decided we would cheer him on the whole way. We chipped in with fundraising efforts, and thus the #High5ives brand we know today was started to help Tim promote the cause. He completed the race in the top 50%, and together we raised £11,000 for Excellent Development, which we are incredibly proud of.
This event attracted so much attention through our activity that the wider Havas Network wanted to know more about the #High5ives initiatives and what our plans were for our next campaign. This feedback became a catalyst for #High5ives to become the brand for all of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities going forward.
What is the goal of the #High5ives initiative?
Our goal is to continue driving social change—both globally and locally. Each year we look to work with charities that are aligned with our business objectives, and as #High5ives moves into its seventh year, we want to be able to continue inspiring our employees to get behind the causes we are championing, to raise more awareness and more money so our charities can prosper, and to continue the amazing work they are doing through the #High5ives initiative.
We’re forever humbled by the incredible things the organizations and charities we support manage to achieve with the small help we can give, and we hope that we continue to grow this initiative as we move into the next 7 years!
What are some of the events and charities Havas Lynx Group has worked with through #High5ives?
Through #High5ives we’ve achieved some huge accomplishments alongside some of the most incredible charities:
- Every parent wants to give their kids the best start they can. But for some, even access to basic education is beyond reach. In Rwanda, it costs £250 to pay for a child’s education for a whole year. And with some families living on less than £1 a day, that’s far from affordable. In 2014 we began working with the charity Born to Thrive with the goal of raising £2,500 to send 10 children to school. Because this is Lynx, we went a bit overboard. Thanks to a huge swell of team support, we raised £10,610.45 in two weeks – enough to send 42 children to school! As a thank you for our efforts, the charity invited us to Rwanda to see the impact of our work. So, in October 2015, a team of 10 people with bags full of clothes and toys to donate, flew out to Kigali to meet the kids we’d been able to help. The team visited the Little Angels School where the head teacher told us they’d run out of money to complete the classrooms. When we returned home, we continued our efforts to support this community with an ambitious campaign to raise £4,000 over two weeks—enough to build one new classroom. Through the collective hard work of each team, and the support and generous donations from families, friends, clients, suppliers, and local businesses we not only met our target but we also smashed it—raising an incredible £13,369.33, enough to complete all three classrooms the school needed.
Centrepoint provides housing and support for young people in London, Manchester, Yorkshire and the North East with the goal of giving homeless young people a future and ending youth homelessness. It costs £144 per year to sponsor a room for a young homeless person, giving them the safety and support they need to live an independent life. Our aim was to raise enough to sponsor 12 rooms, giving a dozen young people a roof over their heads for a whole year.
We raised over £16,000, sponsoring 144 rooms for 12 months to give a number of young homeless people a chance to get their lives back on track with the help and support of the Centrepoint team. It was amazing to see everyone coming together for such a worthy cause and to feel the energy and passion emanating from every one of our employees.
Music is Medicine:
One of our most recent #High5ives initiatives is called Music is Medicine since music is known to reduce stress and anxiety by 65%. So, working alongside Sofar Sounds, a music events startup company that hosts secret and intimate gigs all over the UK, we have created Music is Medicine—an event sharing the delightful and calming sounds of up-and-coming artists to a small group of people. During the events we have been raising awareness and money for our charity partner Mind UK – a mental health awareness charity. Our first event back in July was a success, as we saw over 60 people attend. The next event is on the horizon, and we’re already thinking of new and creative ways to grow the initiative and to raise more awareness and funds for.
Other charities we have worked alongside and supported include:
- The Christie NHS Foundation
- Surfers Against Sewage
- Forever Manchester
Not all of our activities involve raising money. For some of our charities, we will donate our skills and time to help and support them in the work they are doing. Each employee of the Havas Lynx Group is given one volunteer day each year to work with a charity of their choice doing whatever they fancy! Whether that’s volunteering for a specific project, or helping them redesign their logo and brand, it’s important that our employees know that their skills and time can be used outside of their day job to support charities they feel passionate about.
How do employees find out about, and get involved with #High5ives charity initiatives?
We have a number of ways employee’s can find out about #High5ives initiatives to participate in. Each team has a local ambassador who acts as the voice of the employees. Our ambassadors work closely with our chosen charities to highlight key events we can get involved with, they think of unique fundraising ideas and creative ways to raise awareness of the great work our charities are doing. Additionally, we publish our #LYNXLife newspaper to keep our employees up to date and send company-wide emails if we need to get information out quickly.
Anything else you want to share that I forgot to ask?
#High5ives isn’t just about our charities and raising money. Here are just a few examples of how we have managed to achieve some incredible things through small actions of goodwill as part of the initiative.
- We’ve donated over 250 pints of blood through the Havas Lynx Group blood drive. That’s over 750 lives potentially saved or improved
- We’ve planted over 3,700 trees to offset our carbon emissions
- We’ve issued over 2,500 reusable water bottles and thermos coffee cups to reduce our company’s consumption of single-use plastic
- In 2018 we donated around 20 of our iMac computers to local schools and one of our charity partners, Centrepoint, to support the continued learning and development of children and the clients of our charity
- We’ve cleaned two beaches in the UK to reduce the amount of plastic and non-recyclable rubbish that is washing up on our UK shores. We hope to carry out even more beach cleanups as we move into 2020.