Last year, IT professionals donated hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash and time to help the disadvantaged in society. In 2007, Computer Weekly will continue its support for a wide range of charitable activities, and will highlight opportunities for readers to get involved.
The hub for many charitable activities in the IT sector is the Information Technologists Company, the City of London livery company for IT, which aims to maximise the impact and effectiveness of each pound raised.
A good example of its work is the Lifelites scheme, which identified the communication needs of a terminally ill child, consulted the best IT brains and built a pilot system in a hospice. The system was further developed and has since been installed in all of the UK's 35 children's hospices.
Intellect IT Charity Ball
The Information Technologists Company, along with Computer Weekly, supports the grandest IT charity event of the year, the annual Intellect ICT Charity Ball, which last year raised more than £50,000 for disadvantaged children.
The theme of this year's ball, which takes place on Thursday 5 July, is "A Night in Las Vegas". The event, compered by Jeremy Beadle, will raise money for the Advisory Centre for Education (Ace), a charity that helps disabled people with complex physical and communication difficulties and works with technology such as that used by Stephen Hawking.
Ace is helping push the boundaries in eye-control technology for people with disabilities. In particular, it is unlocking the world of play for seriously disabled children through the use of innovative eye-control technology to adapt and develop computer games.
The organisers of the ICT Charity Ball are currently looking for four more companies to join Xerox, EDS, Cable & Wireless and Symantec as sponsors.
London Charity Walk
For those with families, the Information Technologists Company promises a fun day out on its London Charity Walk. The walk takes place on a Sunday in September, and offers a family-oriented charity event for IT professionals.
Based at the Honourable Artillery Company's grounds in the heart of London, the charity walk comprises a series of structured walks visiting places around London that are normally closed to the public. Last year the London Charity Walk raised £20,000 for Barnado's and the WCIT Trust.
At the other end of the scale, a hardy group of about 250 IT industry leaders will take part in Byte Night on Friday 5 October. This annual sponsored sleep-out in central London raises money for homeless children on behalf of the charity NCH. Also supported by Computer Weekly, with the magazine's managing editor one of the sleepers, Byte Night raised £283,000 last year.
Vanco Three Peaks Challenge
The Vanco Three Peaks Challenge invites teams of IT professionals to spend a gruelling weekend in July raising money from sponsors the hard way - by climbing the three highest peaks in Wales, England and Scotland within 24 hours. The funds raised are donated to global aid organisation Care International.
For those who prefer to offer their time and expertise rather than raise sponsorship or donate money, the IT4Communities scheme provides a structured framework for IT professionals who want to help charities or community projects.
IT4Communities matches IT volunteers to charitable projects in need of assistance, offering advice and guidance to maximise the return by maintaining realistic expectations and helping both groups avoid potential pitfalls.
The organisation is backed by the British Computer Society, Citizens Online, Business in the Community, the Information Technologists Company and Computer Weekly. Since it started in November 2002, more than 4,000 IT professionals have donated time worth more than £2m to the many charities asking for IT assistance.[email protected]