In 2004 IT professionals gave hundreds of thousands of pounds and many hours to help disadvantaged members of society. The trend for increasing numbers of our readers wanting to help others by donating money and skills is continuing and we anticipate many hundreds of thousands of pounds more being raised in 2005.
Moves are afoot to co-ordinate charity giving in the IT sector to maximise the effectiveness of each pound raised. The City livery company, the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, is doing much in this area. It organises fund-raising activities and its members are invariably much in evidence at other charitable events.
The grandest is the annual Intellect ICT charity ball, which this year raised £40,000 for autistic children. Next year's ball will take place on 7 July.
The most family-oriented charity event for IT professionals is the annual WCIT charity walk, which takes place on a Sunday in June. The event is based at the Honourable Artillery Company's spacious grounds in the heart of the City of London and includes structured walks visiting London sites not usually open to the public. In 2004 the WCITwalk raised £20,000 for Barnado's. Next year's walk is on 26 June 2005.
At the other end of the scale, one hardy group of about 200 IT industry leaders take part in Byte Night each September. This is a sponsored sleep-out held in London to raise money for homeless children on behalf of the charity NCH. Also supported by Computer Weekly, this event raised almost £200,000 in 2004.
Computer Weekly also supports the Vanco Three Peaks Challenge, where groups of IT professionals spend a gruelling weekend in July raising money from their sponsors the hard way - by climbing the three highest peaks in Wales, England and Scotland within 24 hours. This year the challenge raised £130,000 for global aid organisation Care International. Next year's climb will take place on 16-17 July.
For those who can offer their time rather than money, the IT4 Communities scheme is a structured way of bringing together IT professionals and local charities or communities needing IT help. IT4 Communities is backed by the BCS, Citizens Online, Business in the Community and WCIT as well as Computer Weekly. Since it started two years ago, 2,250 IT professionals have registered and so far donated about £500,000 worth of their time.