A day of celebration, a year of social impact

By | 2 minute read | December 5, 2019

Volunteers are at the forefront of every major conflict, natural disaster and other acute shock. Less visibly, every day and everywhere, [volunteers] tackle stresses that test their resilience, such as poor education, ill health and poverty…Volunteering [is] a fundamental survival strategy, because it enables collective strategies for managing risk. – 2018 State of the World’s Volunteerism Report,  UN Volunteers


Each year on December 5th, the UN celebrates International Volunteer Day, to recognize and promote volunteer service.

According to a recent UN report, “the efforts of the more than 1 billion volunteers around the world are equal to that of 109 million full-time workers.”  This is equivalent to the 10th most populous country in the world and would be the single largest workforce ever created.

Clearly, there is power in volunteerism, and it’s something I see daily with IBM Volunteers.  So in honor of this day, we celebrate the thousands of IBMers who are donating their time and talent to advance important causes from education and skills, to healthcare and disaster resiliency, to preventing human trafficking and conserving the environment.

What’s unique about IBM volunteers is they use their expertise in technology and business—and their passion—to bring support and relief to their local communities. They come from 95 countries all over the world – from Argentina, Belgium, Costa Rica and the Philippines.  Some are full time employees, others are retirees, but they all have one thing in common:  the drive to make a difference.

Over the years, IBM volunteers have logged millions of hours of volunteer time.  Our global CSR platform—IBM.org—enables IBMers, no matter where they are, to  easily connect and collaborate with each other, view and sign-up for volunteer opportunities with communities in need of their skills.  As technology pervades every aspect of society and business, IBMers have a unique opportunity to put good tech to work in the communities they serve.

In 2019, among the numerous noteworthy IBM volunteer projects, 15 received the IBM Volunteer Excellence Award—the highest form of recognition given to IBM volunteers, which also came this year for the first time with a grant for the associated not-for-profit organizations or schools. Award recipients worked on a range of programs, from education to the environment to helping people with disabilities and low-income groups by using analytics and artificial intelligence to smartly address challenges.

For example, IBM volunteers in the Philippines developed a curriculum and recruited other volunteers to teach technological concepts and introduce more than 400 students in public schools the basics of working with IBM Cloud and IBM Watson, as well as how to create solutions using IBM Design Thinking.

Another highlight of our approach is the  IBM Activity Kit. The Kits are used by volunteers around the world, not just by IBM volunteers, to easily deliver engaging STEM-focused learning content in schools and other community groups. We offer nearly 70 IBM Activity Kits that include ready-to-use, no-fee materials covering a wide range of topics.  We invite every volunteer, but especially IBMers, to take advantage of these kits to share their skills and deliver social impact in their communities.

Every hour and every act of volunteerism helps in making our communities inclusive, resilient and sustainable. To all our volunteers, IBMers and those at our partner organizations, Thank You for all you do, and for all you give.  You are making the world a better place!

#IBMVolunteers, #IVD2019, #Volunteer4inclusion