Helping small not-for-profits in Taiwan

Story of service • Taiwan • February 2012

Volunteers help not-for-profits in Taiwan.
Volunteers help not-for-profits in Taiwan.
In Taiwan, the amount of annual charity donations totals nearly US$1.5 billion, 30 percent of youth volunteer for charitable causes, and the country ranks first in Asia for the amount of blood donated. But out of the more than 50,000 not-for-profits in Taiwan, 4 percent – or 2,000 – receive most of the charitable resources. This 4% represents only the largest international organizations.

Small and medium not-for-profits in Taiwan lack the financial resources to effectively market and brand their organizations and, as a result, their ability to raise funds suffers. Resources are often over-donated to large international not-for-profits during disasters, and donations can become “idle,” or not used. As a result, small and medium not-for-profits in Taiwan face a tough battle just to survive and do ‘good.’

In his experience volunteering for not-for-profit organizations, Bruce Ke, a team lead in IBM’s China Development Lab Taipei, saw many small not-for-profit organizations suffering from a lack of resources. Through another IBM volunteer, he met students from the International Association of Students in Economics and Management, AIESEC, the largest student-run organization in the world, who were also interested in helping small and medium not-for-profits achieve better resource distribution. Bruce became the service leader of a project combining the human resources of AIESEC Taiwan with IT and consulting resources at IBM to help Taiwan’s struggling small and medium not-for-profit organizations. An IBM Catalyst Grant will make their project possible.

"This project is one of my dreams in volunteering," Bruce, one of the leads of the IBM Taiwan Volunteer Club, says. "I would like to be a part of it along the way for it to come true."

In Taiwan, Bruce Ke and AIESEC work to match not-for-profits with resources, volunteers.

Optimization through Intelligent, Interconnected, Instrumented systems

The project will build an online system called IVC – Intelligent, Interconnected, Instrumented, Volunteer, and Charity - to optimize donations and distribution of resources, matching goods and volunteers to appropriate not-for-profit organizations. IBM volunteers, along with AIESEC and its co-organizers, will build standard operation processes with a consulting service team, integrating domain expertise. Core team volunteers from IBM, such as service leads, developers, consulting service team and quality control volunteers, will contribute at least 50 hours to the project over the next year. They will help with project management, system analysis, design, development, testing, and promotion in the platform design phase.

Volunteers also will leverage Facebook to involve the public and contribute to change agents, construct a standard operation process and a global adaptation team for worldwide replication of the program, and form a quality control committee.

In one example of how the AIESEC partnership with IBM will benefit small not-for-profits, a community development association in New Taipei City hoped to help female immigrants from Southeast Asia to manufacture vacuum-packed Southeast Asian meals to sell, increasing their personal revenue so they can live independently. But, due to limited bandwidth and funding, the association failed to establish diversified product marketing and sales channels, and is now facing an operation crisis.

The AIESEC will work to find full-time foreign volunteers for the association, and the IVC Matching Platform will synchronize the appropriate goods and part-time local volunteers to meet the association's needs. A consultant service will assist with product launch and promotion, web site setup, community management and talent management. Working together, AIESEC and IBM volunteers will help the community association survive, and eventually build a sustainable enterprise, helping the women immigrants eventually live on their own. “I feel very excited being on this project,” Bruce says. “I have been holding this kind of idea for more than two years, and right now, I have a budget and volunteers who want to put the idea into practice. The most satisfying part to me is that lots of volunteers have experienced the same issue in their volunteer works, and now, we have more of a chance to change the unbalanced situation of resource distribution and the waste of donations.”

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