For the past five years, BNZ has closed its doors for one day each year, to enable its staff to volunteer their time on community projects. Over the past five years that has totalled an impressive 1,350 different projects that have benefitted from some extra helping hands. Canstar caught up with Emily Davies, BNZ’s External Relations Manager, to find out a bit more.
Q: This is the fifth time BNZ has ‘Closed for Good’. How did BNZ originally develop the concept?
BNZ staff have two days paid volunteer leave a year which, before Closed for Good, they were using individually, but what we wanted to do is make large teams of people available to the community in a way where they can really make a difference.
It’s an idea we had been working on for a long time and considered very carefully. We really wanted to harness the energy and commitment of our people across over 180 locations to do something tangible in the community. Something that brings us together as a bank but is also outwardly focused.
Closed for Good was a challenging idea and we continue to work through all the logistics carefully, such as how we can manage and meet customers’ needs, and what essential services we’ll need on the day. But we believe it really makes a difference so we’re committed to making it happen!
Q: Is there any project too big or too small for BNZ to consider?
Not at all, we will be completing projects of all sizes, as we do every year. One of the larger projects we completed last year was on Motutapu Island, for Motutapu Restoration Trust. We sent 54 BNZ volunteers to plant native trees and bushes and remove weeds. The smallest project was for Plunket in Te Anau, where just one volunteer went to help out in the centre and offer an extra pair of hands for the day.
Q: Submissions this year close on 26 July – what would be your advice for community organisations which are not sure whether or not to apply?
Go to the website at www.closedforgood.org.nz and have a look at the types of projects that we’ve helped with in the past. Ask other people within your organisation what needs to get done, whether it’s painting a fence or helping with a business plan. Submitting a project takes two minutes. If anyone is uncertain they can call us on 0800 275 234 and ask for some guidance.
Q: BNZ has helped out on more than 1,350 different projects over the few years – that’s an impressive number. Are you able to highlight a few of your personal favourites?
Every project is special, that’s the great thing about Closed for Good. We did a really special project for the Canterbury District Health Board last year. A team of 14 BNZ volunteers were asked to hand out flowers to people all over Christchurch – a flash mob with flowers! Another great project from last year was for Deaf Aotearoa where we sent a team of business strategists and members of our Executive Team to help find solutions to meeting the needs of their community, their workforce and the wider community.
Readers can find out more about ‘Closed for Good’ and follow BNZ’s weekly blog here.