Taking Giving Back to New Heights

October 3, 2017

ChannelAdvisor ChannelAdvisor By Nick Baranoff

According to Google, Broadgate Tower soars 161 meters (about 528 feet) over the London skyline and is one of the tallest buildings in the UK. A few pictures popped up online, and I began to regret my decision…

Let me explain. Every year at ChannelAdvisor we’re encouraged to have a “giveback day” — a day off spent helping local charities. It’s a way that all of us can help give back to the causes we feel strongly about, and expand our focus on our customers, our lives and those around us. Over the years, seeing homeless folks on the streets every day on my way to work, I’d increasingly realized how easy it is to forget how lucky we are. Some still go without food, somewhere to sleep or the simple knowledge that someone else cares about them.  

Spitalfields Crypt Trust (SCT) has been supporting people recovering from addiction and homelessness since 1965. They’ve been in the news recently with royal visits, and I’m inspired by what they do to help people obtain the three things that many of us take for granted: a home, an occupation and a community. When I found out the charity abseil (rappel for the American crowd) at Broadgate Tower benefited this organization, I knew I had to be a part of it.

As I approached the bottom of the tower on the morning of the charity event, my tired state started to wane. This is a really bad idea, I thought as I looked up. I realized that in just a few minutes it would no longer be a distant feel-good event — I would have to step off the edge of that building!

Nick B. Charity Abseil at Broadgate Tower

It was then that I passed a homeless man, hunched over a puddle with a sign. I patted my pockets, but had no change on me, and so I walked on, as we all do so often. I was reminded that my worries or stresses in life would never match what some people go through. I couldn’t back down.

I can’t remember the ride up the lift, other than the digital flip to the 33rd floor. We then walked out the door to survey the cityscape and what I had really gotten myself into. A long fall was only a few minutes away, and it was starting to weigh on my subconscious. Deep breaths, I thought. And as I stood there, pretending with all the machismo I could summon that everything was alright, I was asked to climb up onto the platform.

They wrapped a harness around me and hooked it all up to ropes attached to the building.  Now, I’ve gone bungee jumping before — it’s an adrenaline dump that’s for sure. But as you’re asked to step back into what feels like the abyss, the experience is an adrenaline waterfall — a constant stream of fear that doesn’t let up until you’re almost at the bottom. If I wasn’t sure before, I know now that I’m not meant to cling onto a rope and dangle off a building. But at least now I can say that I did it!  

It was such a great day everyone was so friendly, and we raised, in total, over £15,000 for SCT. I’m proud of what I did, but I know all I was hoping for was that it would all be over soon. As I look back now, I realize many people on the streets don’t have that luxury.

Remember, what we all do together is much more powerful than what we can do on our own — so how can you help?  

I encourage everyone to take a step into the unknown, think of ways to give back, and contact their local charities. If you are interested in a cause that helps the homeless, feel free to share this with your family and friends, contact the SCT and ask what else you can do.

Nick B. Charity Abseil at Broadgate Tower
That’s me, scared for my life hanging off the side of a 161-meter-tall building

Congratulations to the photographer for capturing the only instant I let go of the rope!  Next time, maybe just a charity walk, eh…