Climbing together - aiming high
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, at 5,895 meters: Sabrina Himmelreich had just completed the last stage of her seven-day climbing tour when the email from startsocial arrived in her inbox. Would she like to coach a climbing club this year in a competition to promote community service projects? Sabrina agreed immediately. The project provides an outlet for sharing her love of community involvement as well as her passion for physical challenges.
Launched in 2001, startsocial invites business and social services professionals to join forces in coaching the founders of nonprofit initiatives. The competition’s patron is German Chancellor Angela Merkel. ProSiebenSat.1 helped launch startsocial with the aim of providing “Help for Helpers” and has been supporting it ever since. This is Sabrina Himmelreich’s second time coaching a startsocial project. When the 28-year-old is not off climbing the highest mountain in Africa, she works as a manager in ProSiebenSat.1’s Strategy & Business Development unit.
Sabrina Himmelreich: I am coaching the “Ich will da rauf e.V.!” climbing club. They have been providing climbing lessons to children and adults since 2008. The idea behind the group is inclusion: Anyone who loves climbing can join, whether they have a disability or not.
Sabrina Himmelreich: startsocial assigns two coaches to each project. I had the pleasure of coaching the organization’s three-person team along with Thomas Hinz from German company Allianz. Thomas mainly took care of financial matters, and I contributed my expertise in marketing, CSR, and strategy. We complemented each other very well.
Sabrina Himmelreich: First, we defined a common vision. “Ich will da rauf!” would like to become an ambassador for inclusion across Germany and advocate for an inclusive community for every individual, whether they have a disability or not. Then we developed action items—for instance, a fundraising plan for companies who would like to participate in the project. Thomas and I led a creative workshop in which we also pinpointed problems the group had faced in the past and worked together to figure out solutions. For example, we want to train even more coaches and offer additional climbing courses in the future.
Sabrina Himmelreich: The intensive coaching phase began in October 2016 and lasted four months. During that time, I provided support to the group for around five to eight hours per week. After that came the follow-up phase, which is somewhat less time-intensive and is still ongoing.
Sabrina Himmelreich: My job at ProSiebenSat.1 involves staffing and then managing project teams. This requires a certain empathy and sensitivity. It’s important to get the best out of any situation and not leave anyone out. I have to consider how the teamwork can be structured successfully for every team member - and that was what “Ich will da rauf!” needed, too.
Sabrina Himmelreich: We want to get other groups interested in the concept of an inclusive climbing club. Right now, we’re taking a climbing tower on a tour across Germany. We’re also working on a new branding strategy to raise awareness of the club and are always trying to find new sponsors. My dream is to develop a long-term partnership with a company - which would, among other things, change the financing picture. I also hope all of our team members continue to work on the project as passionately and energetically as they have done so far. After all, “Ich will da rauf!” has set its sights high!
While many socially minded entrepreneurs have great ideas for community projects, they often run into practical problems when attempting to implement their plans. That’s where startsocial comes in. Around 500 experts from the business world, public sector, and social service agencies provide coaching to selected community projects for four months. From a total of 100, a jury selects the 25 best projects before the competition’s patron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, bestows an award on seven. As a co-founder of the competition, ProSiebenSat.1 Group has been contributing its media services and expertise to the effort since 2001. ProSiebenSat.1 employees also coach the startsocial grant winners.