I’m sure you know how easy SQL Server makes it to keep your data safe, well organized, and easily accessible. But SQL Server can also make it easier for you to share some of the good things in your life with those less fortunate.

Microsoft MVPs are primarily awarded this title for service to the technical community. But in one case, the focus is really on service. Two years ago, at the annual MVP Summit in Redmond, Bill Gates challenged the MVPs to "do philanthropy where you are." My friend and fellow SQL Server MVP, Paul Nielsen, started thinking about how SQL Server MVPs, as a group, could do philanthropy just by doing what we do anyway—helping others in the SQL Server community—and he asked me for support. We started talking and realized that most of us are writers of one form or another. Those of us that don’t write books at least write online articles or blog posts. At minimum, almost every MVP has written detailed online answers to technical questions on one help forum or another. So we decided that a book written by many MVPs, with each of them writing about an aspect of SQL Server that they’re passionate about, would be a great project.

Paul and I decided we wanted proceeds from the book to help children, and we enlisted the support of more than 50 MVPs willing to help. After talking to several publishers, we found that Manning Publications was willing to publish the book. Together, we searched for an appropriate charity to support and decided we wanted one that wasn’t so huge that our contribution would just be a drop in the bucket. We chose War Child International, a network of independent organizations working around the world to help children affected by war. All of the authors’ royalties are being donated, and before the book’s official launch we had already raised more than $3,500 for the organization. You can read more about the War Child International Network at www.warchild.org/aboutus/aboutus.html.

It took more than a year and a half, and sometimes it looked like the book would never get done, but with a big push in the last few months, the first 200 copies of SQL Server MVP Deep Dives (Manning Publications, 2009) rolled off the presses and were shipped directly to PASS Summit Unite 2009 in Seattle, for a fabulous launch on November 4, 2009. I am proud and honored to be a part of this project, and the mass book signing at PASS is one of the highlights of my career.

Many of the book’s authors have said they would do something similar again, given the chance. In fact, now that the first book is out, talk about a second volume has started. In retrospect, the only hard part of the process was getting started and organized, and that part is always easier the second time around. 

I was particularly moved by something Paul said in his preface of the book: "Considering your place in human history, you’re wealthier than most kings of centuries past—you are well educated, your grocery store shelves are full, you have a family doctor. For too many in the world, that is not the case. There are communities without clean water, children hurting from war, and AIDS orphans who have no family or place to sleep. When one ponders the immense need and poverty in the world, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with hopelessness. How can a single drop of ink change the color of an ocean? But we have no other option than to do what we can."  If you like the idea of "doing philanthropy where you are," you can help by buying SQL Server MVP Deep Dives.  Not only will you get 59 chapters of excellent SQL Server content, but you’ll also be helping War Child International help children traumatized by war.  You can go to www.manning.com/nielsen and use the discount code sqldeep40 to get 40 percent off the price of the book.

Thanks to all of you for the support you’ve shown for this project.