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Making business count for humanity — IBM’s day of service

Sun, 30 Dec 2012 17:10:00
Article by:
Thomas Figg
In June 2011, IBM volunteers installed solar panels for low-income families in San Diego. IBM provides a day of service to communities around the world, totaling more than 2.5 million hours since Jan. 2011. Photo courtesy of IBM.
In 2003, the multinational corporation IBM launched an ambitious flagship volunteer program called On Demand Community. This program enables IBM employees and retirees to volunteer within their communities to improve schools, nonprofits and social service organizations worldwide — creating a culture of service.

While IBM’s mindset has always been synonymous with corporate citizenship, the On Demand Community volunteer program propelled the organization to the forefront of corporate philanthropy.

In 2011 — IBM’s centennial year — the On Demand Community had logged over 13 million volunteer hours of service, benefiting more than 5,200 projects in 120 countries.

This totaled almost 1,070 years of volunteering, valued at $100 million.

Additionally, $12 million in grants were provided by IBM for these projects during 2011.

On Demand Community enables volunteers to leverage the company’s technology, expertise and assets in order to give back to society.

Diane Melley, the vice president of Global Citizenship Initiatives, said that up to 300,000 “IBMers” now volunteer in over 120 countries around the world as part of On Demand Community.

The program empowers employees and retirees to volunteer for activities that they choose within their communities, and then identifying skills and expertise viable to specific causes — in order to provide solutions.

Volunteers track their volunteer hours, and apply for IBM community grants to the organizations they support.

IBM contributes technology and expertise to communities everywhere by combining the skills of the volunteer with access to innovative programs, technology resources, training and support.

“On Demand Community is volunteerism fully powered by technology,” Melley said.

IBM also gives employees and retirees all the tools they need to succeed and track the data, building a repository of tools and knowledge which are available for duplication — thus increasing the effectiveness of the program.

Some of the social issues that On Demand Community volunteers support include: education; animal welfare; disaster relief; family services; stopping hunger; fighting drug and alcohol abuse; promoting literacy; youth development; senior citizens; and healthcare.

Some volunteers work on several projects simultaneously.

Jeff Anderson, an IBM sales manager from San Francisco, works with three separate organizations.

“IBM sponsors many opportunities to give back here in the city,” Anderson said.

Anderson volunteers to improve the effectiveness of Hearts & Hammers, Project Homeless Connect — PHC —of the mayor’s office; and the Embarcadero YMCA’s Youth Chance High School — YCHS.

Anderson’s connection to YCHS ranks just above Project Homeless Connect in his passion to give back.

Anderson said that when he attended high school in the south side of Chicago in the late 70s, a helpful counselor helped him decide to pursue college, even though most of his peers did not. He ended up going to college, and earned four degrees, an experience that left him with a keen awareness of just how important an education can be in life.

Anderson said that he really became aware of the YCHS in 2003, and he redirected his Employee Charitable Giving Campaign dollars to his YMCA, in hopes that it would help fund the YCHS program.

In the ensuing years, Anderson was asked to join the board of directors and got involved directly with the YCHS by joining the Major Gifts Committee to bring corporate giving into the program. 

IBM provided a set of tools that Anderson used to enhance the experience and the amount of money the IBM Corporation would give to the program. “IBM encourages my board membership and financial drives,” Anderson said.

In 2011, Anderson led with an IBM On Demand Solution focused on science, technology, engineering and math.

In 2012, Anderson is leading with an IBM On Demand Solution known as “Control Your Identity,” utilizing an IBM Activity Kit that has been designed to prepare and equip volunteers to assist schools or community agencies.

By using the IBM On Demand Solutions as part of his volunteering, Anderson can secure three times the average corporate funding that goes to the YCHS program. 

In 2011, Anderson even secured a special one-time IBM Millennial Grant of $10,000 for the program. “With all this good fortune and backing from IBM, why would I do anything else but try and give it back,” he said.

With hundreds of thousands of IBM employees and retirees out there who are volunteering, similar to Anderson — it is no wonder that the On Demand Community program is so successful.

More information about the IBM On Demand Community program can be found at https://www-01.ibm.com/ibm/ondemandcommunity/home/index.jsp or http://www.ibm.com/ibm/responsibility/downloads/initiatives/COF03013USEN-ODC.PDF.
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