Interview with Lars Györvari, founder of Team World Vision Germany
1. Let’s start with some information about yourself: Tell us about your professional career and how you became the founder of Team World Vision!
I was born in Freiburg, Germany, and went to university in the Netherlands. After graduating I moved to Chicago, where I co-founded a small subsidiary for educational software. At the end of 2009 we moved to Basel, Switzerland, and in 2011 eventually to Munich. Since 2010, I have been working on projects in several, completely different sectors as a freelancer.
My work is always characterized by a mix of distribution strategy and (online) marketing strategies. I usually work with or for startups, which is extremely fascinating. I would say my life revolves around my passion for sports and the desire to contribute to improving the world, if only a little bit.
I discovered Team World Vision in 2008, when my wife and I still lived in Chicago. I never thought I would be able to run a marathon, but the atmosphere in the group of Team World Vision runners and the underlying good cause encouraged me to just try it. So I participated in the Chicago Marathon in 2009 as part of Team World Vision and raised money for children in Africa.
When we moved to Basel right after the marathon in Chicago I was determined to run for Team World Vision also in Switzerland. Unfortunately, there was no team there. This is when I decided to actually found a team. And, I did the same thing after our moving to Munich.
2. How is Team World Vision connected to NPO World Vision and how exactly does your collaboration work?
NPO World Vision has existed in the US in the form of an aid organization for children since the 1960s. In 1978, World Vision came to Germany for the first time. Key points of the organization include development work, “help for self-help,” emergency aid and, of course, child sponsorships.
Team World Vision was first founded in the US in 2006 by Michael Chitwood. After suffering several blows of fate he started running marathons and soon had the idea to cooperate with an aid organization. World Vision was the only organization that believed in his ideas and provided him with the necessary help to develop the running team. Team World Vision runners are now also represented in Australia, Kenya, Canada, Mexico and England. It is really fun to run with people from all over the world for a good cause. Overall, one could say that Team World Vision can be considered an “initiative” or a “program” of World Vision.
3. What are the goals of Team World Vision and to which means can you resort to reach them?
On the one hand, Team World Vision is about directing the attention towards the work of World Vision. On the other hand, we want to encourage people to actually do something. There are so many ways to contribute, even without money at play.
We encourage our runners to create their own donation page. Those who have never collected money for a good cause should just try it. Even if it requires a bit of courage at the beginning, almost all runners are surprised by the positive reactions and the great feedback from their respective environments.
The donations then go to aid projects organized by World Vision – water projects in the US, for example. This year, in Germany, we will focus on the promotion of schooling for children in Bangladesh, who would otherwise have to work in factories and on assembly lines.
More about the project: http://www.worldvision.de/_downloads/allgemein/World-Vision_Bangladesch_Bildung.pdf
4. How can people become a member of your team, and how exactly can they get active within Team World Vision?
It’s as easy as pie. Just sign up and order the Team World Vision running shirt on https://www.worldvision.de/unterstuetzen-ihre-aktion-hilft-team-world-vision-laufevents-teilnehmerformular.php. I try to personally welcome all new runners.
For the next (optional) step, the runner can create a personal donation website via our partner company Alvarum (www.alvarum.de). When it comes to raising funds, we certainly provide tips and help. It usually proves to be quite useful to tell friends and family about the donation initiative in person (instead of via e-mail). Many people are surprised by how quickly the donation account keeps growing.
Of course, there is also the possibility to sponsor children via World Vision. My wife and I have two children we sponsor. We even went to see Owethu from Swaziland last year! People increasingly understand that social commitment is not a one-way road.
5. How many members do you currently have?
Team World Vision in the US currently counts almost 7,000 runners and the team in Australia has several thousand members. In Germany, the project still is in its initial phase. Although it is an NPO, the development of a Team World Vision is similar to the one of a startup – we just cannot count on investors’ money, which usually accelerates growth. Subsequently, marketing investments have to be very well-planned and continuously reconsidered.
6. Tell us about the events you already participated in and your successes.
Actually, we are still waiting for big successes in Germany. The Munich Marathon 2012 was a first, encouraging step for Team World Vision in Germany. Donation collectors raised 800 euros on average – this is really encouraging.
Our biggest event was the Chicago Marathon, in which around 1,700 Team World Vision runners participated in 2012. However, we also have something in mind for ultra-runners: the Comrades Marathon, where each year hundreds of child sponsorships are initiated thanks to special promotions.
7. What are your plans for the rest of 2013?
This year, Team World Vision runners will participate in events all across Germany. Our focus, however, is the BMW Frankfurt Marathon 2013. For this purpose, we created a completely new, individual campaign website in collaboration with Alvarum: http://teamworldvision-frankfurt-marathon-2013.alvarum.net/
Also the marathon relay in Berlin, in November, in cooperation with Running Twins will definitely be one of the highlights.
8. How does Runtastic support your members in their activities?
Especially during the preparation phase of events, when it comes to running a certain distance at a determined pace, Runtastic is a lifesaver. I use Runtastic for every run, with or without music. And I would highly recommend Runtastic, especially to those runners who are not ready to invest several hundred euros in a GPS watch.