Good causes often get forgotten in difficult times. With financial stability and job security taking precedence, it is inevitable for charity to move closer to home.

But charities need more support than ever in times of recession, and the technology industry has a significant role to play.

The Prince’s Trust needs £1 million a week to continue its vital work, and the money raised by the TLG will help the UK’s most vulnerable young people into work, education or training.

Fujitsu is a patron to the Trust, and our fundraising team ‘Monkey Business Entrepreneurs’ have managed to raise over £14,000 since August 2008. We strongly encourage more industry colleagues to do the same.

The challenges

Running a charity campaign in your spare time brings numerous challenges, but none more so than the backdrop of economic doom and gloom that is currently gripping the world. With companies investing cautiously and reviewing their financial position more attentively, how do you persuade them to support charities?

Economic conditions aside, some people struggle to find the time for fundraising activities. But we’re living proof that a small group of people can make a big difference. Our Fujitsu team were geographically dispersed and came from all parts of the company for this challenge; a test in its own right. But we all managed to find at least a few spare hours each week to make the campaign a huge success.

Monkey Business Entrepreneurs: Our story

Our own campaign has been a real test of organisation, creativity and determination. Above all else, however, it has been a test of our entrepreneurial skills and business acumen. Fujitsu took part in the Trust’s ‘Million Makers’ challenge - a national competition that challenges teams of employees to compete against each other, raising as much cash as possible for The Trust.

We were tasked with planning and delivering fundraising activities and were provided with an investment seed to launch our ideas.

By the end of October 2008 (our campaign’s halfway point) we had barely raised £1,000. It was a real low point, but we were determined to turn the project around.

We concluded that our bigger ideas were too risky to provide the expected returns in the current climate, so our main approach was to focus on several smaller activities with each team member tasked to raise £1,000 each.

We improved our communications channels and weekly progress reporting made clear where progress was being made. The leadership team risk assessed each idea to ensure our investments were of sound value and supported team members in their first fundraises. It was a real test of character for us.

We undertook a variety of fundraising events, from raffles to fun runs to car washes. We even developed and launched – a referral website inspired by the Million Dollar Homepage, where individuals and businesses can purchase advertising space at £2 per grid square.

Our team remained focussed on the end goal and the money began to pour in. By January we had raised £7,000 and had one final month remaining.

The TLG Big Debate Fundraiser

In order to boost the total to our £10,000 target, we needed to organise something pretty special, and fast.

Richard Holway, Industry Analyst and Chairman of the TLG had previously blogged about our web venture, so we approached him with the concept of organising a senior-level debate on the future of the IT industry. Richard was very supportive of the idea and offered to chair and speak at the event.

Richard Christou, corporate first senior vice president and president, Global Business Group for Fujitsu, also kindly accepted our request to join the panel in support of charity.

Having secured two influential speakers was fantastic, but it was only the first step. Due to the high profile nature of this event and our campaign deadline being only 21 working days away, we needed to raise our game to pull this off in time.

Given the current economic climate, we set a modest ticket price of £60 per seat (contrasting to the numerous free events TLG members attend each year). By the event date we had sold 100 tickets to prominent figures from leading industry companies (double our target) and booked a larger venue to cater for the demand.

The classy TLG Big Debate Event was a remarkable success and raised £6,000 in ticket sales alone. This far exceeded our expectations and our tenacious pursuit of excellence helped us to clearly break through our target goal.

So why support The Prince’s Trust TLG?

When our project finally came to a close, we had raised a total of £14,625, the majority of which came through in the final three months of the project.

We had turned this project around from a real low point and learnt a great deal about sales, management and delivery and felt some of the common issues faced by new start-ups to secure new business – an area which The Prince’s Trust very much supports.

The funds raised will make a real difference to the lives of disadvantaged young people. This is a reward in itself, but there are many other benefits for individuals and companies alike to join the Prince’s Trust Technology Leadership Group.

The TLG is particularly active in supporting the Trust’s Business Programme, which provides loans and mentoring support to young people looking to start their own business. Members are therefore actively involved in nurturing the country’s future talent.

What’s more, with organisations such as Oracle, Microsoft, AMD, Sage and Vodafone (amongst many others) as members, the TLG brings together the UK’s leading technology companies. It is therefore a unique and invaluable, top-level networking forum.

Most crucial of all, participating in the Million Makers enterprise challenge rewards teams of employees with real business skills of value to employers.

The entrepreneurial nature of the Million Makers challenge is particularly suited to nurturing the entrepreneur in all of us, with 72 percent of participants experiencing an increased sense of motivation and self-confidence, and 88 percent saying it improved their ability to work in a team. Our own Million Makers experience has been invaluable for all of us, and we highly recommend our colleagues throughout the industry to take part in their own initiatives this year.

Team leader, Mudassir Husain received 1st Prize for the ‘Most Inspirational Chairperson’ awarded by The Prince’s Trust at the London and South East regional finals and would like to thank team members for a collective effort and fantastic result.

If you would like to find out more about the Technology Leadership Group or the Million Makers challenge, please contact Jamie Webb on 020 7543 1317 or [email protected]