Ten years ago, IBM launched On Demand Community, a first-of-its-kind initiative that provides its global team of volunteers with an array of online tools and resources to share with schools and community organizations. Setting a new standard for corporate volunteerism, the program expanded corporate philanthropy by supporting and facilitating employee volunteerism world-wide.
The close to 250,000 IBM employees and retirees, who helped to make On Demand Community a success, volunteered more than 16 million hours as of mid-November. Whether volunteering singularly or working in groups, they applied their professional skills in their volunteering efforts, enabling them to significantly impact and more effectively support the organizations where they volunteer.
A global reach
On Demand Community has expanded far beyond initial expectations. Originally implemented in 68 countries, the scope of the program has spread to over 120 countries world-wide, making it unique in its global reach and international composition.
“IBM has a strong tradition of giving back in the communities. I think we as IBMers have a duty to give back to our community, and today, that community is worldwide,” says David C. Fitzpatrick, a DBA Solution Manager, Industrial Sector Lead, in Raleigh, North Carolina, US.
That’s why David, along with Bhanu K. Thirumalasetty, works in the DBA Solution Center in Bangalore, to organize a yearly day of service in four Indian cities in which other IBMers can choose to participate.
This year in Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, and Hyderabad, IBMers are bringing a full day of activity to orphaned school children using the Engineering Everything and Hello Watson Activity Kits. In addition, funding from Community Grants allow the teams to provide school supplies to the orphans. IBM demonstrates global corporate support of volunteerism by recognizing the causes and passion of employees and retirees with Community Grants. Through the grants program, individual volunteers, and teams of volunteers, who meet eligibility requirements can obtain $500 to $3000 cash or select technology equipment for their organization.
The grant will allow Bhanu and the India IBMers to provide school bags for each child. In previous years, the grant allowed IBMers to purchase bed sheets for the orphanages. IBMers give their time during this day of service, but also make their own financial commitments, fixing meals as well as purchasing some supplies to put into the school bags.
“I have been with IBM since I was a fresher,” says Bhanu. Freshers are new college graduates hired into IBM. “I like that I am able to give back to my country and I like doing it on behalf of IBM, representing the company in the community. When we see the children, they are so happy that we’ve come. They always ask us, ‘When will you come back again?’ It motivates us to give even more.”
Bhanu continues. “This year, a team of 40-50 IBMers will reach more than 150 children and make a big difference in their lives. When you see the pictures, it’s a delight. These children have an electric smile on their faces.”
Ten more years of opportunity
To mark the 10th anniversary, IBM launched a new integrated user experience for On Demand Community, including an online volunteer skills profile. Employees and retirees can list the skills they would like to share and develop as a volunteer. After completing their profile, volunteers will automatically be notified of opportunities in their selected geographic locations that match their listed skills. As part of the site re-design, On Demand Community is now accessible by community not-for-profit organizations and schools enabling them to propose their own events and request IBM volunteer skills.
In the next decade, On Demand Community will continue to foster innovation in volunteerism and to support IBMers as they demonstrate leadership and impact while making the world better.
David Fitzpatrick sums up the spirit of IBMers and the IBM commitment to volunteerism. “I’m driven to volunteer,” says David. “I do it as much for myself and the reward I get out of seeing the happiness on the faces of individuals we help, as for the strong belief I have that we must give to those less fortunate—and IBM helps make it happen.”