Rescue & Recover Fund: Turning commitment into action
01.03.2017 | Sustainable finance
M. Geoffroy Bazin, CEO of BNP Paribas Switzerland and founding member of the Rescue & Recover Fund, and M. Philippe Levêque, CEO of the NGO CARE France, agreed to share their experiences with this innovative fundraising system.
The Rescue & Recover Fund, created by BNP Paribas in 2012, aims to combine the generosity of its employees around the world and its customers in France who wish to help victims of humanitarian crises by supporting three partner associations: CARE, Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders.
The fund takes action in response to major crises, both those that receive media attention (Typhoon Haiyan in Philippines, the earthquake in Italy, Hurricane Matthew in Haiti) and “forgotten crises” (maternal and infant health, access to clean water, etc.).
Geoffroy Bazin, CEO of BNP Paribas Switzerland and founding member of the Rescue & Recover Fund
Philippe Levêque, CEO of the NGO CARE France
The Rescue & Recover Fund and you
1. What is your role in the Rescue & Recover Fund?
G.B.: The Rescue & Recover Fund was set up by several of BNP Paribas Group’s entities, among which BNP Paribas Switzerland SA is very proud to be counted. As CEO of the bank in Switzerland, I am a member of the fund’s Board of Directors, which includes four other founding members and an independent expert.
P.L.: Founded in 1945, CARE is one of the largest international solidarity networks. Present in more than 80 countries, we provided aid to some 65 million people in 2015. CARE is non-denominational and non-partisan. 88% of our resources are allocated to our social mission. CARE combats the root causes of poverty, focusing particularly on women's issues, as gender equality is an essential element in the struggle against poverty, and the consequences of climate change which often affect the most vulnerable communities.
The role of CARE is to provide relief in emergency situations and through long-term development projects. CARE alerts the fund to its primary support needs, develops projects on the ground in cooperation with local communities and reports on the initiatives undertaken.
2. Why did you want to partner with this initiative?
P.L.: CARE is very pleased to partner with this innovative initiative. The fundraising system is particularly pertinent in that:
- It distributes aid to three associations whose actions are complementary to one another; this allows the fund to increase its impact without spreading aid too thinly.
- It responds to both “global emergencies” (such as the earthquake in Nepal) and “local emergencies” (such as the floods in India), helping those affected by crises that receive less media attention and are therefore often forgotten.
G.B.: When the fund was launched in 2012, we immediately recognised it as an extremely promising system that would allow our employees to engage in a new approach to solidarity. The fund’s greatest strengths - its promotion of assistance and solidarity, its encouragement of collaborative effort, its determination to build bridges between the worlds of business, emergency humanitarian aid and sustainable development - are all based on values that I personally hold dear and hope we will continue to foster at BNP Paribas.
CARE in Nepal
3. What attracts you most to the Rescue & Recover Fund’s mission?
G.B.: In my view, the fund’s primary mission is to allow employees to join their resources with those of the bank so that together we can support the initiatives of the French Red Cross, CARE and Doctors Without Borders. This collaborative nature is what makes the Rescue & Recover Fund a truly pioneering system, especially in terms of corporate social responsibility in the major humanitarian issues of the day. The other key to the fund’s success is its ability to respond quickly and with flexibility to crisis situations. A campaign can, in effect, be launched within 48 hours of a call for donations by one our partner associations or a Group entity. In emergency situations, this reactivity represents a real source of leverage for our partners.
P.L.: The fund is able to call on the generosity of employees in the hours immediately following a disaster. And this reactivity is essential as it allows us to provide rapid support to victims. Another key element of the fund is the Group’s corporate commitment to this very approach. Because BNP Paribas Group also commits to helping those in need by matching employees’ donations, it succeeds in mobilising its staff while generating a strong sense of incentive. Finally, the involvement of a competent internal team that understands the needs of associations and supports them in their initiatives is a key factor in the success of this partnership.
The Rescue & Recover Fund in action
4. If you had to choose one project or campaign led by the fund that was particularly meaningful to you over these last four years, which would it be?
G.B.: The campaign led in response to the earthquakes that shook Nepal in April 2015 is certainly among those that left a lasting impression on our teams at BNP Paribas in Switzerland. In addition to the swift mobilisation of employees at the time of the call for donations to the Rescue & Recover Fund, we formed a partnership with an international organisation in order to support its work to aid sustainable development in Nepal. This new collaboration between NGOs and the bank allows for more sustained follow-up to emergency actions invested by the fund and carried out by the French Red Cross, CARE and Doctors Without Borders in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.
P.L.: What I most admire about the fund, beyond the projects it supports, is the trust and attentiveness it has shown us from the start. For example, when we began our initiatives in Lebanon in response to the Syrian crisis, the fund was one of our first sources of support.
The incentivizing effect was considerable, allowing us not only to fund our initiatives but to raise additional funds from public institutions.
5. Four years after its creation, how would you evaluate the fund’s progress?
P.L.: In the last four years, the fund has developed an efficient tool that responds both to employees’ desire to help and to the needs on the ground. A few figures: for CARE this represents more than €850,000 in aid since the creation of the fund, or support for 15 projects in 13 countries. It has allowed us to respond to emergency situations like those in the Philippines and India as well as to more general issues such as maternal and infant health care.
G.B.: With steady increases in mobilisation and the number of donors, and with continually strengthened support for our three partner associations, the fund has done extremely well in every sense. Like every new system developed within a large group, the fund has certainly faced challenges, but it has met them with tremendous success. As a result, many entities have now developed their own tools in order to strengthen employees’ involvement with the fund, including tax-exempt donations, contributing a portion of end-of-year bonuses, promoting awareness of initiatives on vending machines and leading collection efforts in company restaurants. Thanks to these initiatives, we have reached nearly 11,200 donors, supported fifteen projects and donated more than €2.6 million to our partner associations!
The fund’s future
6. What are your hopes for the future of the fund and/or for humanitarian aid in general?
G.B.: As far as I have observed, one of the characteristics of the fund that is also becoming prevalent in the the humanitarian sector is the support for local populations taking charge of their own development. This emphasis on helping communities become active in the resolution and anticipation of humanitarian, social and climate crises to which they are particularly vulnerable is, to my mind, an essential key to sustainable development in these countries. The fund already responds to emergency situations and “forgotten crises”; however, I believe that strengthening its initiatives to promote the independence and resilience of vulnerable populations would be an interesting and timely goal to consider.
P.L.: There are more than 65 million displaced persons around the world today. The need for humanitarian aid has never been so pronounced. Crises are multiplying, natural disasters are becoming increasingly destructive, inequalities are widening…The humanitarian community is facing a great many difficulties. To meet these challenges, and to provide aid to the most vulnerable populations, it is important to mobilise everyone involved, particularly private stakeholders. The support of the Fund is therefore crucial to the success of our initiatives. In order to leverage its impact, I hope the fund will become accessible to even more stakeholders within BNP Paribas that it will extend broadly to its customers and develop more ways of interacting with donors, such as the web conference organised with CARE after Hurricane Matthew in Haiti.
I also hope that the model BNP Paribas has developed will be able to inspire other companies. CARE is proud of this partnership and will gladly promote the tool to other companies to encourage them to replicate the model.
Photos : ©CARE
The Rescue & Recover fund contributes to accomplish the following SDGs: No poverty (Goal 1), No Hunger (Goal 2), Good Health and Well-Being (Goal 3), Clean Water and Sanitation (Goal 6), Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (Goal 9), Reduced Inequalities (Goal 10) and Partnerships for the Goals ( Goal 17).