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Celebration of Service

Transforming the way the world volunteers

Celebration of Service activities reflect a very diverse IBM in a very diverse world

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."

Lasting Centennial gift: new eagerness to share with others

2011 in retrospect should be seen as the year when the principles of Smarter Planet were firmly embedded in IBM volunteerism, along with greater willingness to share IBM resources with others. IBM Activity Kits, developed to make volunteering simple and effective for employees, are now available to anyone on the public IBM100 website and most are available in seven languages. Also introduced as part of the Celebration of Service, was a much-enhanced Volunteer Activity Management tool for employees and retirees, to encourage team volunteerism. As of late November, there were nearly 5,000 postings.

One hundred years, one hundred stories

One of the ambitious goals for Centennial planners was the creation of 100 stories about the individual heroics of IBM volunteers during Days of Service and related activities. To follow some of their adventures, visit the "Stories of Service" section of the IBM100 site.

Stories abound of IBM innovation and teamwork during the Celebration of Service, including this showstopper statistic: as of mid-November, IBM employees and retirees logged 3.1 million-plus hours – or a collective 1,066 years – of volunteer service just in 2011. You can follow this through year-end and beyond, and read about hundreds of individual projects, on the IBM100 website. Or you can "Google" or "Bing" “IBM Centennial” for a flood of stories available on the Internet and via blogs and social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

That flurry of information didn’t occur by accident. Use of social media to support the Celebration of Service is seen as a watershed event, with IBM employees encouraged to use social media to share information with not-for-profit organizations and other like-minded volunteers. The only restriction: adherence to IBM Social Computing Guidelines which requires that you identify yourself, and be responsible.)

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.