November 14, 2014
Wielding a staple gun to frame a house with Habitat for Humanity or assembling sack suppers at Kids’ Food Basket is awesome, but as an application developer I find it especially fun when I can use my skills to help out local non-profits with technological projects. Many non-profit organizations are in need of a new website, or a real database to keep track of volunteers or donors instead of the way-too-many-spreadsheets method, but often these technological needs get pushed out of the way due to time or budget constraints.
Enter GiveCamp. GiveCamp is an annual event where around 15 local non-profits are chosen to be a part of a weekend-long event where software developers, designers, database administrators, marketers, etc. all come together to volunteer their time working on whatever tech projects these non-profits bring to the table. Volunteers can choose to work with others from their company or just be placed onto a project team that could benefit from the skills that they have. From 5pm Friday night until 2pm Sunday there were people working on these projects, typically heading home to sleep for a few hours, but other times claiming a cot upstairs, or just skipping sleep entirely. The weekend long event took place at OST this year.
Nonprofits that participated this year include:
- Carol’s Ferals
- Dispute Resolution Center of West Michigan
- Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.
- Girl Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore
- Kent County Parks Foundation
- MomsBloom, Inc.
- On my Own
- Otsego County Commission on Aging
- Software GR
- SPCA of Southwest Michigan
- Steepletown Neighborhood Services
- The LGBT Network of West Michigan
- Thrive: A Refugee Support Program
- The Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation
- Health Net of West Michigan
My team jumped into work right away Friday night; everyone was excited to get going, learn new things, and contribute in any way they could. On my team this meant Squarespace account setup, email migration, website design, calendar and event building, and Stripe integration for donations and ticket purchases. Other teams built databases and Angular apps, created new WordPress or Squarespace sites, updated their so-old-they’re-barely-functional-and-I-thought-we’d-escaped-this-style-in-1998 ‘current’ websites, etc. For the record, the volunteers are taken care of pretty well here too – from the wonderful food (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) provided for us by StoryLane Catering to the never-ending supply of coffee, pop, and candy, we were set for the weekend.