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Giving back is good for business too

  Article , Success stories

Dept agency empowers employees to give back

The big picture

The world of business has evolved so much, that companies must work harder than ever to get and stay successful. That’s why it’s so inspiring to come across a business that sees the big picture and goes above and beyond ‘business as usual’ to give back to their communities.

This video of the Dept agency showcases their digital marketing focus and volunteer and community engagement programs.

Based in the Netherlands, Dept is a digital agency that has grown rapidly, with offices across Europe, the U.S., and South America. This one-stop-shop serves businesses of all sizes from small startups to big corporations across all industries. They’ve won numerous accolades including Microsoft Advertising Elite Partner, the Microsoft Advertising Trailblazer Award and a Webby Award in the category ‘Apps, Mobile & Voice – Culture & Events’ for their app ‘Unravel Van Gogh’. Offering a wide array of creativity, technology and data services, Dept also helps companies with their digital transformation and the setup of in-house digital teams. They offer a 360 experience that transcends traditional or digital marketing. This full-spectrum approach helps customers innovate solutions that connect businesses and people in ways that matter to them across all channels and platforms. “Our core is working with clients and providing the best possible solutions, “says Robert Verbeek, Lead Digital Marketing Consultant. “Along with that, Dept aims to empower employees to develop themselves as individuals and contribute to making the world a better place.”

Now 75% of our clients use Microsoft Advertising, and we’re working on getting the rest up and running.

— Robert Verbeek, Lead Digital Marketing Consultant, Dept

Acts of kindness

In addition to doing amazing work for clients, Dept facilitates opportunities for employees to give back to their communities and the world. They do this through an internal initiative that empowers employees to make a difference with compassionate, community-driven activities, and inspire employees across all offices to get involved. Their ongoing commitment includes supporting local communities through volunteer efforts, donations, and pro-bono projects. “Employees are motivated to take an active leadership role in empowering themselves and each other to give back to causes and non-profit organisations they’re passionate about,” shares Robert. Amongst other nonprofits, they’ve worked with Doctors without Borders and they’ve built an app for Justdiggit – enabling people to donate money for water irrigation and sustainable agriculture in Africa. Dept supports Coderdojo, providing monthly workshops for kids about coding and working with digital technology. Moreover, Dept works with JINC an organisation that gives underprivileged kids a head start to the labor market. They can participate in a one-day internship for example, or Depsters help out with a skills training workshop or guide them in a day at the office. They even had a teenager be CEO for a day.

Raising awareness at work

Volunteer activities and initiatives are also integrated into the day-to-day life of Dept employees. One such initiative is Dept Cares Day where employees can step away from work to collaborate on a project, like a hackathon or other opportunities such as volunteering at a soup kitchen. In addition, they’ve created Meatless Mondays. While not a volunteer action, it’s part of their overarching goal to grow awareness about the impact everyone has on the climate. “Having one day a week where no meat is served in the cafeteria is about educating and inspiring employees to experiment with a plant-based diet,” Robert says. “We do this to reduce meat consumption, which has a big environmental impact.” Dept also had a meat-free week in June and its yearly Dept Festival with over 2,500 people attending is 100% meat-free as well. “It’s exciting to see people change their routines,” Robert shares.

Profit meets purpose

It’s been said that the happiest people aren’t those who have more, but those who give more. For Dept, doing philanthropic work not only helps the communities they live and work in, but it also improves morale and builds a positive work culture. “It's a unique way of bonding,” Robert says. “We get to do new and fun things together and experience the incredible feeling of knowing we made a difference for a good cause.” The Dept team has seen first-hand that even small actions can make a big difference for people in need, and they feel strongly that it’s important for companies to do their part to make the world a better place. “Working for a successful company puts us in a very privileged position,” he says. “We have a responsibility to give back. Our hope is that others will be inspired to give back more.”

A powerful partnership

In order for the company to continue giving back to the community, Dept needs to make sure their business continues to grow. One of the ways they do this is by getting more of their clients onto the Microsoft Advertising Network. Last year, Dept realised that many clients didn’t understand the value that could bring. “In the past, only 30% of our search clients used Microsoft ads. “We educated clients on the incredible opportunity with Microsoft Advertising,” Robert says. “We also did a lot of testing. Now 75% of our clients use Microsoft Advertising, and we’re working on getting the rest up and running,” Robert shares. “The results have been great. For many of our clients up to 10% of their traffic comes through Microsoft ads.” Dept’s business has grown a lot, too—they’ve opened 120 new client accounts. “Our Microsoft Advertising account managers are really special,” Robert says. “Pheline Casier and Matthijs van Heijningen are supportive, dedicated, know exactly what we need and what our clients need from us. They go above and beyond to help us--that’s quite unique. They always make our collaboration more fun and successful.”

The trip of a lifetime

Every once in a while, powerful moments happen in places you never imagined you’d find yourself. Dept was selected as one of the winners of the Microsoft Advertising Powerful Moments contest for the work being done for their clients and for their communities. “It's incredible that Microsoft offered the trip to Abu Dhabi as part of their Powerful Moments Contest,” Robert says. “It was an amazing life experience and I met some really amazing people.” For Robert, the whole trip was impressive, but the Special Olympics welcoming ceremony was unexpected and deeply impactful. “It was spectacular,” he says. “It was quite touching seeing the athletes enter the stadium. The happiness and pride that lit up their faces as thousands of people from around the world cheered them on, was so moving. It was a truly powerful moment to witness. That had a much bigger impact on me than I expected and was one of the coolest things about the experience. It was an honour to be there to support the Special Olympics athletes.”

We have a responsibility to give back. Our hope is that others will be inspired to give back more.

— Robert Verbeek, Lead Digital Marketing Consultant, Dept