We continued our well-established tradition of supporting the advancement and empowerment of organizations and individuals within the communities in which we do business. Our initial focus was centered on direct cash donations, but our community investment program now encompasses employee volunteering, matched-giving schemes, in-kind donations, disaster relief efforts and partnerships with community groups, educational institutions and cultural organizations in all of our business regions.
In 2012, UBS and our affiliated foundations made direct cash donations totaling CHF 27.5 million to carefully selected non-profit partner organizations and charities, compared with CHF 31.1 million in 2011. Additionally, spending on the UBS Anniversary Education Initiative amounted to CHF 16.7 million. These donations were primarily aimed at our Community Affairs key themes of education and entrepreneurship.
Contributions were also made to other causes, in particular disaster relief, including a commitment of more than USD 1.2 million in total financial contributions to long-term relief and rebuilding efforts in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in the United States. These donations, combined with other significant activities, notably the volunteering activities of employees, have continued to provide substantial benefits to projects and people around the world, as demonstrated by the examples provided below.
Across all business regions, our employees continue to play a very active role in our community investment efforts, in particular through their volunteering activities. In 2012, 12,563 employees spent 110,065 hours volunteering, an increase of respectively 8% and 5% compared with 2011. We support their commitment by offering up to two working days a year for volunteering efforts, and also match employee donations to selected charities.
In Switzerland, our community investment efforts are also advanced by the UBS Culture Foundation, the UBS Foundation for Social Issues and Education, and the A Helping Hand from UBS Employees association. In 2012, these organizations made valuable contributions to important social causes, including fostering the humanities and the creative arts, supporting communities in need, and helping disabled and disadvantaged people.
Established in 1999, the UBS Optimus Foundation works to break down the barriers that prevent children from reaching their potential. The Foundation works with carefully selected partners globally on projects which help children in the areas of health, education and protection against violence and sexual abuse. Since its establishment, the Foundation has received more than 18,000 donations totaling over CHF 175 million, enabling it to support 275 projects in 75 countries. Because UBS bears all administrative costs related to the UBS Optimus Foundation, 100% of every donation goes directly towards the projects funded.
In 2012, we published the Optimus Study, the most comprehensive research ever conducted in Switzerland into the extent of sexual assault on children and adolescents. The study's findings are helping the government and child protection agencies to improve in delivering child protection services for children and in turn, reduce the incidence of child sexual victimization.
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