Looking back, the IBM Centennial Celebration of Service has been a transformational event, special even by the standards IBM set for itself.
Boosted by more than $12 million in philanthropic grants, the IBM global family logged the equivalent of 1,000-plus years of voluntary service while dramatically transforming the way IBM employees invest their time outside of work. Celebrating a century of IBM has been a much-needed boost to struggling not-for-profit organizations, a demonstration that IBM employees can use technologies and skills to make the world work better, and a startling demonstration of the potential impact of social media.
"How do we begin to thank all the marvelous volunteers?" asks Diane Melley, director of global community initiatives for IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs. "They’ve literally transformed the way we look at volunteerism and good corporate citizenship. And the whole world is still watching to see what we can do next."
During the Centennial year, IBM grants designed to support the work of IBM volunteers, were doubled in value over previous years. They’re flowing to projects that promise the best demonstration of IBM skills and technologies to solve a broad spectrum of the world’s problems - as defined by passionate IBM volunteers. Funding details for future grant awards will be announced in the beginning of 2012, but the basic grants philosophy for 2012 and beyond is simple: When you are an IBM team willing to creatively use Smarter Planet concepts or On Demand Community solutions to transform your not-for-profit or school, you can get more IBM help to make it happen.
"We feel we've succeeded in using these grants as incentive for IBM employees to think of volunteerism in entirely new ways," Melley says. "You'll never hear me say that we want employees armed with a paint brush, hoe or rake to stop giving 'sweat equity' to our communities. But we now also have hundreds of great examples of employees accomplishing wonderful things with not-for-profits, using the same technical skills that make this company such a leader in the global economy.
“IBM employees not only understand what we're trying to accomplish with skills-based volunteering, but they're really using the tools of their trade, like project management, IT, finance, and human resource management, and making good corporate citizenship a differentiator in the marketplace.
“We're putting our skills where our hearts are."