Powering the Possible in Volunteerism

Editor’s Note: This post is an excerpt from a longer blog from Deb Bauer that appeared at CSRwire. Click here to read the full text.

Creating a culture of volunteerism isn’t just good for our communities — it’s vital for Dell’s business.

Through conversations with our nonprofit partners, Dell knows that person-power can amplify the effect of our grants; this is especially important in today’s economy, where every dollar is stretched for as much return as possible. At the same time, this service boosts team-member morale and engages them in our company and the community, making them happier in their careers and more loyal to Dell.

Just three years ago, our team members volunteered approximately 200,000 hours annually. In our recently ended fiscal year, we more than tripled that total to 700,000 hours. And more than half our team members participated — 56 percent. Their reach is truly global and touches thousands of charities in 60 countries, with highest participation in Asia and Latin America, according to our global tracking.


Several initiatives have fueled our community service charge:

  • An online, social community. We launched our online Powering the Possible portal (named after our broader corporate responsibility commitment) two and a half years ago. Team members can log volunteer hours, donate to charities and find new causes to support. With more than 59,000 members, the portal has connected our team worldwide through philanthropic activity.
    We also want to help our team members volunteer more strategically. This year, we launched a skills-tracking function to the portal, where team members list their expertise and connect with charities in need of those specific services. And we’re highlighting opportunities with our strategic giving partners, helping our team members understand that their time can be vital for nonprofits who are receiving Dell technology and grants.
  • A governance structure that accommodates both top-down and bottom-up engagement. Our Global Giving Council comprises top-level executive leadership, guides our philanthropic programs, and reports directly to the chairman and CEO. Under that council, we maintain four regional giving councils to engage local programs and team members; implementing these regional groups has significantly increased our volunteer efforts. And at the grassroots level, 800 giving “Community Service Program Leaders” drive business unit-, site- or country-specific signature programs — instrumental to bringing our programs to life around the world.
  • Virtual volunteer opportunities. As we build our skills-based volunteering capability, team members can connect with charities in need of copy writing, web development and projects that can be done virtually One of our signature giving programs, the Dell Social Innovation Challenge, requires thousands of hours every year in mentorship and judging to help student entrepreneurs hone their ideas for social good and turn them into viable businesses. The majority of this work is done online via www.dellchallenge.org; our team members can sit at their desks and help students halfway around the world. Last year, more than 1,000 Dell team members participated.

These and other efforts have transformed our collective thinking about community service. Our team members are helping young cancer patients in France use technology to stay in touch with loved ones, mentoring underserved children in computer labs, even helping the Red Cross use social media to better target humanitarian aid. For this fiscal year, we’ve set a goal of 750,000 hours and maintaining at least 50 percent team member participation.

To learn more about Dell’s work in the community, visit Dell.com/communities or let me know your thoughts at @DebBatDell.

About the Author: Lionel Menchaca