eir and Special Olympics Ireland (SOI) have worked together since 1985, making this the longest sustained corporate charity partnership in Ireland. Employee engagement is the major reason that the relationship is as strong now as it was when it began, 35 years ago.
eir employees have created an annual fundraising event for eir’s charity partner, the purpose of the event is threefold, to raise much-needed funds, to promote a culture of wellness and to celebrate the longevity of the partnership. In 2020 COVID-19 restrictions threatened to derail plans for this year’s event, but with a little creativity and a lot of goodwill from teams in both eir and SOI, this year the organisations celebrated their largest eir Challenge in seven years! Since it first began the eir Challenge has raised almost €400,000 with all funds going directly to the SOI Young Athlete Programme.
559 people turned out to run, walk, jog, cycle and raise money for a great cause. People couldn’t be physically together so instead, wearing their eir Challenge shirts, made from 100% recycled material, the camaraderie was captured in photographs and videos covering the length and breadth of Ireland and beyond.
The eir planning team wanted to ensure that the annual event could go ahead, safely, amid public health restrictions, knowing it was more important than ever to support their charity partner who, like many charities, had to cancel their annual collection day. The planning team made changes to ensure this was possible, they changed the format of the event, placing additional focus on engaging communications and sharing training stories, photos and videos to keep the team spirit alive in the run-up to the eir Challenge. Secondly, where fundraisers would have previously been held in eir offices they instead took their fundraising online. Employees held online fundraising events with their teams including virtual bingo, quizzes, raffles and even online cooking classes! One final change they made was to focus on participation. Family and friends were invited to take part, the type of challenges was broadened, ranging from a 2k to an Ultra Marathon, and with people staying local it was possible for employees across the country to take part. These changes resulted in a very successful event with €45,000 raised by eir employees for Special Olympics Young Athletes Programme.
eirThe Special Olympics Young Athletes programme introduces children to a wide range of play activities in a supportive and fun environment and introduces fundamental movement skills. This year the eir Challenge had an international contingent taking part with friends and family taking part in the UK, France and as far as Egypt, all made possible by bringing the event online. They also had the most diverse challenge with participants ranging from 25 months to 78 years old!