Service in Communities

Service in Communities

Individuals, and the time they volunteer, can be a powerful transformational force. At IBM, we put service and skills-based volunteerism at the center of our corporate citizenship efforts, encouraging employees to get involved for the benefit of their company, their community, and themselves.

On Demand Community

IBMers often demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility and citizenship through service. To encourage this service, IBM created On Demand Community, an online portal that offers rich tools and resources to facilitate current and retired IBMers’ volunteer engagement and action. Using this community, which is designed to accommodate the way people work today by including mobile and work-at-home employees, IBMers can find skills-based volunteer activities and apply their expertise to a cause, helping to make a difference in the communities they care about.

In 2013, we took steps to transform the traditional model of volunteering, in which interested individuals seek out opportunities to serve, by adding a feature that empowers community nonprofits to find the skilled IBMers their organizations need. We did this by opening up our On Demand Community portal to these nonprofits, allowing them to submit service projects that are aligned via skills, interests, and location, and are then pushed out to IBM volunteers globally. Through a robust skills-based matching tool, our technology pairs the needs of our community nonprofits with employee and retiree skills, ranging from project management to technology expertise to communication strategies and many other capabilities.

This unique model allows our community nonprofits to directly find the skills they need with IBMers who are ready to donate their strengths and talents to issues of importance to them. Since On Demand Community’s launch in 2003, more than 250,000 IBM employees and retirees have registered at the site and logged 16.5 million hours of volunteer service.

16.5 million

Hours of volunteer service logged by more than 250,000 IBM employees and retirees since 2003

On Demand Community
Recognizing 10 years of volunteerism



in 120 countries

Volunteer hours tracked

16.5 million

Community Grants


awarded totaling $40 million+

Skills-based activity kits

45 kits

available to volunteers worldwide in 200+ translations

Community organizations


to post volunteer activities

Awards and recognition


volunteers recognized

Every year, IBM awards significant individual and team volunteers with the IBM Volunteer Excellence Award. Among the 12 winners for 2013 were:

Envisioning a future without cyberbullying

Research shows that 64 percent of teenagers in Hong Kong and Macau have experienced some form of cyber-bullying. A team of seven IBMers envisioned a program that would work to raise awareness of the problem, help prevent cyber-bullying, and have a real impact on the students and their schools.

In collaboration with the Education Bureau (EDB) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, these IBM volunteers launched the Internet Safety and Anti-Cyberbullying Student Training program to primary and secondary students in Hong Kong in 2012. Due to its tremendous success, the program has been scaled up to include 191 primary school students from 19 schools and 140 secondary school students from 13 schools in 2013.

The team uses many On Demand Community resources, including the Control Your Online Identity and Cyber-bullying and Internet Safety Coaching activity kits, as the basis of their program. They translated the information into Chinese and customized the content with local news, regulations, and teaching materials from EDB to target different audiences. With native-language and local examples, students can better understand and relate to presentations, making the program more effective.

Helping immigrants enhance their skills

What started as assistance from an IBM Centennial grant for a volunteer project with the Amsterdam social security department has developed into a full-blown nonprofit organization.

In 2011, Rosanna Nazir led a large group of IBM volunteers to build and deliver education courses designed to help immigrants enhance their skills and improve their employability. Coming off their success, Nazir worked with several volunteers to formally establish Stichting Vrouwen Aan Het Werk (VAHW), or the Foundation for Women at Work, to turn the project into an ongoing commitment.

Nazir, an IBM professional development program manager, is now the chairwoman of VAHW, dedicated to developing innovative projects to promote economic independence and self-reliance for women, young people, and immigrants. In addition to a curriculum of general information and communications technology courses, the team is adding classes to help women develop targeted skills for the areas in which they will seek employment.

The World Smart College was the original project with the social security department to guide immigrants in job readiness and confidence-building to seek employment in an unfamiliar culture. It ran from November 2011 through June 2012 with more than 100 IBM volunteers on hand. The high success rate of participants finding employment motivated Nazir and others to expand the idea and create VAHW. The volunteer team has made use of several On Demand Community activity kits, including job readiness, project management, and marketing basics.

Giving children with Down Syndrome a fun way to learn

For the last 30 years, special education institutions have used blackboards, pencil, and paper to teach students with special needs, such as Down Syndrome. In 2013, IBM Argentina was invited by ASDRA (Down Syndrome Association of Argentina) to participate in a project aimed at developing information technologies for use in the teaching and learning process of children with intellectual disabilities in school, support centers, and at home. The key was to leverage the extensive use of mobile devices to help people with Down Syndrome learn in a fun, intuitive way that also motivates them to be more open and communicative.

The project was posted on the On Demand Community, in search of professionals with different skills to volunteer their time to develop a set of cognitive exercises for smart phones and tablets. Required skills included open-source programming, drawing, painting, music, leadership, and project management. It took the team of six volunteers about five months to complete the project: A game using open-source software that can be downloaded from the Internet.

The game aims to stimulate emotional responses in children by helping them recognize everyday situations. While playing, the child selects the “face” that represents an emotion described in the stage of the game. Correct answers allow the player to move from the home area through stages in the game; as the player identifies each face drawing correctly, the achievement is recognized with applause. If the player makes an incorrect selection he or she is returned to the original position without highlighting the error. The game has been downloaded more than 2,500 times and is in use at six schools in Buenos Aires.

Community Grants

IBM Community Grants support employees and retirees around the globe who regularly volunteer with nonprofit organizations. When an individual volunteer or teams of IBM volunteers meet the requirements and work with eligible community organizations, the organization qualifies for a cash grant. Grants begin at $500 and may be higher if an activity kit from the On Demand Community site is used or if a professional skill is involved. Organizations may receive one Community Grant per calendar year. In 2013, thousands of community organizations received grants with a value of $4 million through IBM Community Grants.

$4 million

The total in IBM Community Grants given to organizations in 2013

Employee Donations and Programs

IBM joins 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 develop as leaders and contribute directly to the well-being of their communities.

Employee Charitable Contributions Campaign

The annual Employee Charitable Contributions Campaign (ECCC) in the United States provides employees and retirees with an opportunity to contribute to more than 10,000 community organizations. These organizations offer a wide array of services including environmental, cultural, health and human services, literacy, and disaster relief. The 2013 ECCC generated a total of $32.5 million in support of communities in the United States. The Employee Charitable Fund program in Canada provided approximately $3 million in contributions to Canadian organizations. IBM salutes the generosity of its employees and retirees and is proud to provide these programs to assist them in support of their communities.

$32.5 million

The total of US employee and retiree contributions to the Employee Charitable Contributions Campaign in 2013

Matching Grants

The IBM Matching Grants program enables US 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 nonprofit organizations have benefited from contributions by IBM and our employees through this program. Recipients of IBM Matching Grants are a variety of organizations 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 2013, 5,979 organizations received grants with a total value of nearly $11 million.

$11 million

The total value of matching grants received by 5,979 organizations in 2013