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Celebration of Service

Providing non-profits with volunteers and new skills

Celebration of Service in Calgary, Alberta, Canada will address current needs of not-for-profits

On June 15, the IBM Calgary office is throwing the doors open to welcome a variety of local not-for-profit organizations.

“We want IBM employees to be exposed to as many non-profit opportunities as possible -- in a variety of volunteer situations,” says Roy Hebert, Executive Lead for the IBM Calgary Celebration of Service. “This is a great way to provide non-profits with access to our people and skills. It’s our opportunity to show our local community what the IBM brand stands for and that we are a socially responsible company.”

The goal for IBM’s Celebration of Service is to have every IBM employee pledge at least 8 hours of service this year and Hebert is hoping to get more than 600 employees involved in the activities he has planned in Calgary.

Centrepoint, United Way of Calgary, The Calgary Foundation, Calgary Chamber of Volunteer Organizations and Volunteer Calgary provided IBM with insight into the issues facing the not-for-profit sector and help plan for the Celebration of Service. Strategic sessions will include: project management, social media engagement and board governance.

“Roy is very inclusive and wants to listen to people,” said Barb Ferguson, CEO of Centrepoint, an organization that provides management support and services to the Calgary non-profit sector. “We are able to come together to discuss how IBM could best provide benefit to the community. We’re really grateful to be part of it.”

Each organization will be matched with an IBM consultant. This model has been very successful. Last year, IBM delivered project management training for several organizations and matched an IBM consultant with the not-for-profit to follow-up as a coach and mentor.

Basic IBM skills valued by not-for-profits

Tracy McEachern, an IBM client executive, decided to team with the Alberta Deaf and Hard of Hearing Society, helping them improve their project management skills. “They found it extremely valuable,” says McEachern. “We had breakout sessions and they started using the project management templates right away. The thing I realized is that for IBM employees, these concepts and skills are a common day-to-day reality, but that isn’t always true for non-profits. I didn’t realize the knowledge we have could be so valuable to these organizations that do so much for society. If you have a passion for a cause or if a non-profit resonates for you, there is bound to be a way your skills can assist them.”

McEachern had an affinity for the Alberta Deaf and Hard of Hearing Society as she has deaf family members. Her involvement with the society is ongoing and led to her discovering another area in which IBM can possibly help – police checks. Every not-for-profit needs to do police checks on potential volunteers and consistently say the process is laborious and complicated.

Infrastructure support

Process improvement for the screening of volunteers is just one of Calgary’s strategic projects for the IBM Centennial Celebration of Service. Other projects include improving reporting systems for not-for-profits, and creating systems to support not-for-profits with volunteer management and systems and processes to improve food distribution to the needy.

IBM is marking its centennial year with a worldwide celebration of volunteer service. Throughout 2011, IBM invites everyone to join our global community of employees, retirees, families and friends as we support the communities where we work, live and learn together.