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Michael SwansonFeb 9, 2024 10:49:59 AM5 min read

ISAM's Commitment to Giving Back: Our Charitable Initiatives

Each one of us is a product of someone's act of kindness and goodwill. It could be the individual who purchased our first product or service, or the first person who gave us our initial job opportunity right out of school. We all begin with an empty canvas, and it's through the generosity of others that we fill it with meaningful experiences and memories.

In 1996, when ISAM was founded, Enterprise License Agreements (ELAs) and Software Asset Management (SAM) were relatively unknown concepts. SAM conferences were non-existent. Despite having no long list of successful clients, I reached out to several Fortune 100 companies, offering to assist them in developing SAM programs and guiding them through their first ELA negotiations. My pitch was based on my personal experience of creating the first SAM program in a major Midwest corporation.

Fortunately, these companies believed in my vision and trusted that our services would provide value. Looking back, their faith in me and ISAM can be seen as a remarkable act of blind trust. It is thanks to their belief in us that ISAM continues to thrive 28 years later.

Growing up in a nation that had recently emerged from 54 years of foreign occupation, World War II, and civil war, I was surrounded by poverty and disease throughout my entire childhood. In the context of U.S. standards, our lifestyle was undeniably modest. However, within the context of our immediate community, we were considered exceptionally well-off. These experiences instilled in me a profound sense of gratitude for the blessings I had and a deep empathy for those who did not share the same opportunities that were inherently mine by birthright.

Numerous individuals find themselves unable to sustain their livelihood for various reasons, often due to unexpected circumstances or unforeseen catastrophes. When we actively support a charitable cause, we embrace a mindset of generosity that imparts a meaningful legacy to the recipients. The act of giving transforms us, fostering personal growth and making us better individuals.

This spirit of helping others becomes apparent in our actions and interactions, radiating outwards to those around us. When others witness this altruistic attitude, we inadvertently leave behind a lasting legacy of significance, one that resonates with the hearts of those we touch.

Throughout my life, I have attended numerous funerals, and I've been struck by the stark differences between services for individuals of the same age. Some funerals can extend for hours with a large gathering, while others last a mere 20 minutes with only a handful of attendees. This contrast often hinges not on the person's success in life but on the legacy of significance they have left behind.

For some, the ultimate measure of success is not personal achievement but the enduring impact they make on others—an indelible legacy that transcends time.

Since ISAM’s inception, it has been our mission to give back to our community, whether the community is our local neighborhood or international community. When we have an attitude of giving back to our community, it creates an attitude of selfless service that carries into our work for our customers. When we are concerned about the well-being of our community, we care about what is best for our customers.

ISAM has consistently championed causes aimed at assisting the most vulnerable members of our global community, including those who are impoverished, homeless, battered, hungry, and orphaned. Our commitment to making a difference has led us to take various impactful actions:


  • We have donated personal cars to assist young single mothers who have experienced abuse.
  • Supported orphanages in Myanmar and Ukraine, where thousands of orphans have received care and support across multiple locations.
  • Invested in youth programs in Minneapolis and initiatives to combat drug addiction.
  • Contributed clothing to help homeless individuals.
  • Provided needed school supplies to both local inner city schools and in the Dominican Republic.
  • Our team has actively participated in company trips to warehouses, where we packed meals for those facing hunger in third-world countries.
  • We've traveled abroad to provide much-needed earthquake relief in times of crisis.
  • ISAM played a key role in providing financial support for the construction of a leading pediatric clinic in East Africa.
  • We've also dedicated our time and efforts to the local community by collaborating with Habitat for Humanity on meaningful projects.


Through these diverse initiatives, ISAM has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to making a positive impact both locally and globally.

There is no shortage of worthy charitable causes, but there often seems to be a scarcity of individuals willing to go the extra mile to make a difference. However, when we cultivate a fundamental belief in giving back through charitable endeavors, it transforms our identity. This charitable mindset extends seamlessly into our interactions with customers, fostering a genuine desire to assist and contribute to a better world.

Learning about a program backed by ISAM that boasts a 100% graduation rate among inner-city youth, compared to the usual 75-80%, brings a sense of satisfaction, knowing that the community has benefited significantly from this youth program.

The age-old adage "it is better to give than to receive" holds true, and I wholeheartedly agree with it. When ISAM engages in giving, it not only benefits our company but also our employees and the community we serve. Even when we believe we have exhausted our resources for giving, the act of digging deep to find something to offer consistently rewards us. These blessings may not always manifest as monetary gains, but they invariably return to us in multiples of what we have given.

In spite of spending 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandella left a global legacy of significance and said it well, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

Are we living a life centered around giving that will establish a lasting legacy of significance, or are we merely creating memories of our fleeting successes that will eventually fade away?

Michael Swanson

With over 35 years’ experience in corporate finance, Michael Swanson is an expert at identifying and solving business problems, understanding and reducing costs, and designing and creating best practices across multiple industries with integrity. Michael has played an integral role in creating and defining the software asset management industry since 1994. In 1996, Michael founded ISAM (Information Systems Asset Management) and led it to become an industry leader in Software Asset Management. Clients globally have utilized ISAM’s GreenBook® and expertise in software asset management, data center optimization and software audits for mainframe and distributed software, and have saved over one billion dollars in software expenses. Clients work with Michael and ISAM to: - Maintain compliance with software licenses - Optimize their software cost structure - Ensure that software budget is consistent with industry best practices. ISAM has delivered a steady stream of satisfied clients, saving over $1B over the past 25 years, and has been a pioneer in the Software Asset Management field. They have data from over 1000 major data centers including the largest corporate, consulting, outsourcers and government agencies worldwide. Michael grew up in Taiwan. He joined the Boy Scouts to explore and travel and became an Eagle Scout at 17. In 2008, Michael and his daughters traveled to China to help earthquake victims. In 2005 he traveled to Honduras where he helped install running water to villages that had none.


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