IBM strives hard to make the Corporate Service Corps so much more than a volunteer engagement with NGO’s and local government groups around the world. They stress the importance that IBM is sending highly skilled consultants not manual laborers. Or, to put another way, we are there to make a difference to their organisation, not dig trenches.
That being said, the IBM Corporate Service Corps brings with it some interesting challenges, I think it would be easy enough to dig a suitably sized trench in a four week period, but to consult, analyze, make recommendations, and ideally bring change to an organisation, four weeks is an incredibly big challenge. Particularly for the sub teams who are struggling with the government based organisations where politics plays a big part in the outcomes they are trying to achieve.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, Team Fundaction Anpuy are facing up to the challenges of running a growing charity efficiently. As they say with small business, it’s easy to start a small charity, the real challenge is keeping it running. (To their credit, the Fundacion has been running since 1995!)
One of the earliest things we did when we started the consultation with the foundation, was to get them to detail their pain points. “What are the things that take a really long time to do?”, “When you want to know if you are going to have enough money month to month, how do you work this out?”, “How do you keep in contact with all of your sponsors?” and so forth. And the answers to these questions are probably similar across many small charities, all involve significant manual processes.
The foundation has stated that they have really only survived on luck, and the incredible support of their ‘angel’ investors, who seem to know the exact right time to donate to ensure that Anpuy continues to make very positive impacts on the lives of the local youth.
As an engineer, I’d love to spend the next 6 months solution designing for the foundation. I’d love for them to be able to magically generate every report they could ever want, track every bit of information in some form of database, and for it to magically ping donors when their payments are due, to read their bank accounts and track their donations and send invoices automatically. I’d love for them to handle scholarship application tracking electronically and so much more, but the big thing I am learning on the IBM CSC engagement, is that a four week engagement demands discipline, focus with a strong sprinkling of realism.