Telecom For Change Unites Partners And Carriers For A Cause

Charitable organization Telecom For Change is bringing companies in the communications space together to make a difference, and the organization is looking for more partners to take up the cause.

Telecom For Change (TFC) is a loose organization of carriers, MSPs, master agents and solution providers joining forces to benefit various charities. The one-year old vendor-agnostic group has so far raised $172,000 for multiple charities.

Telecom For Change was launched by owner Angie Tocco, who also co-founded Phoenix-based LanYap Networks, a telecommunications service provider serving mid-sized and enterprise-level businesses. For many carriers, master agents and solution providers, business has been good in the telecommunications space. Tocco wanted to find a way to give back.

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"We all write a check for a charity here and there, and we do it because we might not have the time to give, but I thought, 'What if we all got together a couple times a year and wrote a check to the same organization?' If we chose the right organization, that support could be game-changing for them," Tocco said.

The first charity event was held by LanYap Networks in New Orleans' French Quarter and the organization was able to raise $35,000 for a local foster child program.

"That was the kickoff. From there, we got a little hooked," Tocco said.

After that, Tocco formally founded TFC along with her business partner and LanYap' Networks' co-founder, Laura Dashney.

Several companies in the telecommunications space got involved right away, including Master Agent Intelisys, and MSPs Matrix IBS and Evolve IP. While attendance to events ebbs and flows, each event typically has 10 to 15 sponsors.

"What we’ve learned through Telecom for Change is that this community cares," said Scott Kinka, chief technology officer and founding partner of Wayne, Pa.-based Evolve IP. "[TFC] is such a simple concept and it works. But most importantly, TFC isn't associated directly to any master, provider or partner, so there’s opportunity for everyone who is not involved to get involved, have some fun, and do some good."

So far, TFC has helped several charities, including organizations geared toward helping children, domestic violence victims and veterans.

"So many of us in the channel have been blessed by enormous growth over that past decade. TFC has proven to be an amazing way to give back. Peers and competitors alike teaming up to make a difference … it's become something I look forward to every year," Andrew Pryfogle, senior vice president of cloud transformation for Petaluma, Calif.-based Intelisys, one of the five companies that sits on TFC's board.

Telecom for Change's second annual charity golf tournament is approaching. This year's tournament will be held March 15 at the TPC Las Vegas, and there are still openings for interested companies or individuals. The beneficiary of the tournament this year will be The Ashley Lauren Foundation, an independent, New Jersey-based nonprofit that provides direct financial, material, and emotional assistance to families battling pediatric cancer.

Intelisys' Carol Beering, senior vice president of sales operations, represents the master agent on TFC's board.

’The current fundraiser is particularly meaningful to Intelisys, as one of our own families was supported by the Ashley foundation throughout pediatric cancer treatment and recovery," Beering said. "We have firsthand experience of the tremendous value and support they provide families in the most difficult of times, and we’re proud and honored to help them do this work.’

TFC's last event was held in Boston in September. The organization raised $75,000 for a veterans' charity.

"We look for grassroots charities were $30,000-$75,000 can be game changing -- not necessarily for research or development, but more for financial support," Tocco said.

While serving the community, participating companies also have the chance to cultivate relationships and potential business opportunities. "It doesn't matter if you're a partner, like a telecom agent, or a master agent or carrier – this isn't an agent looking for a carrier sponsor -- this is about us coming together to give back to a community we are visiting," Tocco said.

Tocco and the TFC board members hope to expand the organization this year.

"There is a misconception that this is a private group, or by invitation only. We want to get outside of our immediate community and let other partners and carriers know they're welcome to join, participate, and bring in guests, instead of being a guest," she said.