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Service in Communities

For 100 years, service and volunteerism have been essential elements of what it means to be an IBMer. Creating a culture of service has always been a central part of our corporate citizenship efforts.

Celebration of Service

We believe a culture of service benefits IBM, IBMers and their communities on multiple levels: it helps us express IBM’s brand and values to the world; it allows IBMers to give back to their communities, apply their skills in meaningful ways and gain new skills; and it improves our employee satisfaction, attraction and retention rates.

And so throughout 2011, in recognition of our 100th anniversary as a company, hundreds of thousands of IBMers around the world committed at least eight hours of their time to the cause of their choice. We called this effort a “Celebration of Service,” and it ultimately yielded more than 3.2 million hours of service in everything from education and healthcare to disaster relief and conservation.

This effort was designed to give back to the world in the best way we know how: by volunteering our skills, expertise and technology. But it was also an experiment, a way to test our belief that skills-based service can be massively scaled. We approached this day by carefully constructing an integrated System of Service, comprising tools, volunteer opportunities, NGO involvement and incentives that together inspired and enabled community outreach on a wide scale.

This didn’t all happen at once, however. And we didn’t do it alone. The Celebration of Service was actually the result of nearly a decade of planning and engagement. Since 2003, IBM has been building a system that could significantly scale skills-based service both inside and outside our company.

3,201,216 hours of service in everything from education and healthcare to disaster relief and conservation.

These efforts began with the creation of the On Demand Community, a portfolio of unique internal tools that helps IBMers to find volunteer activities and identify skills and expertise they can contribute to a cause. It equips volunteers to empower community organizations with a variety of skills, such as financial planning, leadership development, IT deployment or project management. By tracking their volunteer hours in the On Demand Community portal, IBM employees and retirees can help the schools and not-for-profit organizations they support to qualify for IBM Community Grants. Since its launch, more than 220,000 IBM employees and retirees have registered at the site and logged well over 13 million hours of volunteer service.

13 million hours of volunteer service by more than 220,000 IBMers is the equivalent of 1,096 years of service.

In preparation for the Celebration of Service we also brought together some of the most respected volunteer and service organizations in the world and conducted an online brainstorming event in October 2010. Service Jam included thousands of experts from not-for-profit organizations, corporations, academic institutions and government agencies across ideology and geography. The intent of the Jam was to begin a global conversation about how we can collectively improve the delivery of volunteerism and community service in the 21st century. In many ways, this Service Jam confirmed and expanded IBM’s strategies for service and corporate citizenship. And it also cultivated new and important relationships that would prove valuable during the Celebration of Service. View the complete results in the Service Jam White Paper (pdf).

Another essential part of IBM’s integrated System of Service was the creation of a powerful incentive program to support the Celebration of Service. In 2011, IBM provided $11.9 million in grants to the schools and not-for-profit organizations where IBMers volunteered. These Celebration of Service Grants expanded IBM’s existing Community Grants program, as well as added two new grant classes (Catalyst and Centennial) that covered the full breadth of service projects, from simple, low-cost volunteer efforts to complex challenges with high community impact. All of the grants honor IBMers’ dedication to community service, with the two new grant classes particularly focusing on projects that apply innovation and professional skills to improving the communities where we live and work. For more on the winners of the grants, visit this link.

Also key to encouraging widespread participation was providing simple, scalable ways to engage more people in service. Activity Kits are new resources, designed especially for the Centennial Celebration of Service, that provide volunteers with “grab-and-go” service ideas to help them get engaged quickly and easily. As of June 2012, there are 37 Activity Kits, each of which is publicly available at to IBMers and non-IBMers alike. The topics range from Clean Water Difference, a kit that helps students understand the dynamics of watershed areas, to Disaster Volunteering, which teaches disaster preparation and disaster relief best practices. Most of the Activity Kits are available in English, Chinese, French, Spanish, Japanese, German and Portuguese. And we plan to actively grow this portfolio as we identify new needs.

The integrated system of service developed for IBM’s Celebration of Service ultimately yielded more than 1,000 years’ worth of service in less than one year. It engaged more than 300,000 volunteers, from 120 countries, working on 5,000 different projects. On June 15, Sam Palmisano, IBM’s chairman, spent the day in his hometown of Baltimore, teaching middle school students about the many uses of digital technology. IBM CEO Ginni Rometty led hundreds of volunteers in “speed mentoring,” building entrepreneurial skills among low-income, high-potential members of Westchester County’s Women’s Enterprise Development Center. And Jon Iwata, senior vice president of Marketing and Communications, led a Harvard University workshop for not-for-profits on the use of social media.

Celebration of Service Stories

Read hundreds of service stories from IBMers around the world.

Ultimately, we hope that the Celebration of Service made a difference in the many communities it reached. But we also hope that it inspires other companies to take the same, integrated approach to scaling skills-based service. Because we believe that the best way for private companies to make a positive impact on communities around the world is by directly applying their specific skills and expertise to societal problems. And we believe the Celebration of Service proves it can be done on a large scale. For our part, IBM will continue to build on the successes of the Celebration of Service, and engage with organizations looking to learn from our experiences.

2011 Celebration of Service Grant Winners

Below are just a few examples of the over 3,000 Celebration of Service grant recipients.

Irish Cancer Society (Ireland)

This grant will help develop a smart cloud-based system to support the expansion of the Irish Cancer Society’s “Care to Drive” program, which provides free patient transportation to and from treatment appointments—including scheduling, route planning, volunteer reimbursement and data management.

El Agora (Argentina)

In Argentina, citizenship observatories publish quality-of-life indicators for cities (housing, transportation, health, etc.) used to propose public policies for local mayors. This grant is designed to help promote the exchange of information across several cities and to promote specific improvements.

Wiener Tafel (Austria)

Austria has nearly 1 million people on the edge of poverty, yet tons of surplus food are thrown away daily. This grant will help create a smarter logistics solution to assist the distribution of surplus food from Vienna supermarkets to those in need, aiming to increase distributions by 20 percent.

Drishtee Foundation (India)

Rural India lacks access to critical information and technology. This grant will fund a Smart Rural Aggregation Platform to help transform Drishtee’s model villages into sustainable Smarter Villages, by aggregating services and products related to livelihood, agriculture and information.

$11.9 million in grants during 2011 to over 3,000 schools and not-for-profit organizations where IBMers volunteered.

Employee Donations and Programs

IBM teams with employees to support organizations and causes in the communities where they live and work. Community-level grant making and extensive volunteer programs help our employees become personally involved in community projects.

Employee Charitable Contributions Campaign

The annual Employee Charitable Contributions Campaign (ECCC) in the United States provides employees with an opportunity to contribute to over 10,000 community organizations. These organizations offer a wide array of services, including environmental, cultural, health and human services, literacy and disaster relief. The 2011 ECCC generated almost $36.5 million in support to communities in the United States. The Employee Charitable Fund program in Canada provided about $3 million in contributions to Canadian organizations. IBM salutes the generosity of its employees and is proud to provide these programs to assist them in support of their communities.

$36.5 million in employee contributions to the Employee Charitable Contributions Campaign in 2011.

Matching Grants

The IBM Matching Grants program enables employees and retirees to increase the value of their donations to educational institutions, hospitals, hospices, nursing homes and cultural and environmental organizations with a matching gift from IBM. The recipient organization can choose to receive its gift in the form of either cash or IBM equipment. Hundreds of educational institutions and thousands of not-for-profit organizations have benefited from contributions by IBM and our employees through this program. Recipients of IBM Matching Grants are a varied group that includes the Nature Conservancy, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the Educational Broadcasting Corporation, the Metropolitan Opera, the University of North Carolina and Yale University. In 2011, 6,120 organizations received grants with a value of $11.9 million.

$11.9 million in grants through IBM’s Matching Grants program to 6,120 organizations in 2011.