Tis the Season of Giving and while times are tough for businesses there are ways and means that all companies can give back to the community from an IT perspective that will help those in need and also maybe keep those 3 Ghosts of Christmas from the bedroom on Christmas night.

First Option is the obvious donation of equipment once you’re finished with it. Having said that only do so if there’s still life in it – those CRT monitors and Dell XP Dimensions from circa 2004 aren’t going to help anyone and you’re really just dumping your trash on some unsuspecting charity. Better if you have machines from the Vista era and above that could be used in a training charity or not for profit organisation. Finding those interested can be as easy as asking ringing your nearest charity however if you have issues then try Camara who can always find a home for reasonable equipment.

Next option is your premises and staff. Use your training room or provide a few laptops and ‘tutors’ for lessons during lunch or after hours. I do some tutoring work with Age Action and it’s both personally rewarding and also provides older people with one-to-one lessons on how to do the basics that we take for granted. I’ve seen the look on peoples faces when they video call relatives in the USA or when they find an archive clip from their childhood that takes them back. I even got to show one person the school where he worked in Boston on Google Earth, though I think there’s a suspicion of dark magic on his part after that one…

Another option that comes under the remit of recycling but isn’t quite, are the mobile phones. When you do an office wide upgrade of the mobiles to the latest Samsung or Blackberry (there’s still some out there right?!) then you’re left with a box of old phones that are left idle ‘as spares’. These can be used to generate much needed funds for organisations and requires very little work on your part. Jack and Jill will accept them and offer details on their site of how to go about it.

Expertise and equipment outside of training can also be useful to  some organisations. Offer the smaller local charities the ability to use your equipment for fund raising, maybe they’ve a raffle they need to print flyers for, maybe they need a few calls made. Think about what it is you do and have access to, could it be of use to anyone else?

At the end of the day there are a thousand ways to help people in need, and it’s up to you whether you do and what you do. I’ve earmarked a few that come to mind above but I’ve worked with quite a few in the last number of years and can honestly say that the rewards personally far outweigh any cost you may incur and who knows you might make a contact that’s good for the commercial side of your business too.

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