Note: I wrote this recap back in July, but somehow forgot to publish the blog post version and only sent this recap to my coworkers. Whoops! 🙂 Figured I owed it to the organizers to get this post out, though!
This year I volunteered at an event called Cleveland GiveCamp. It’s essentially a 3-day long “hackathon” for local non-profits. So WordPress power users, bloggers, designers, PHP developers, Ruby developers, iOS/Android developers, etc. get together and build websites/apps or enhance existing websites/apps for nonprofits in Cleveland.
This year, there were almost 200 volunteers and we had 20 projects to complete within the weekend. (Meaning working from about 8am – 2am for multiple days.) They require projects to be completed during the weekend because in the past, people offered their time after the event and were flaky, so they do a good job of scoping out the projects beforehand and ensuring it’s realistic to get it done within the time frame.
The non-profits go through a vetting process beforehand which takes a lot of volunteer time. Then, once approved (they get 100s of applicants), a project manager (also a volunteer) gets assigned and starts working on the project scope with the representative(s) from the non-profit. A representative is required to be at the event for approvals, changing scope (if the project was too aggressive or obstacles got in the way of completion), credit card/passwords for things, training on how to maintain the site, etc.
The schedule for the event was pretty intense – starting at 5pm on Friday and going through 6:30pm on Sunday. We got introduced to the project and our teams on Friday, started a little bit of work, then worked through Saturday and spent most of Sunday on writing documentation for the non-profits to be able to maintain their projects.
We worked on some amazing projects! – These are the non-profits we supported with our work: http://clevelandgivecamp.org/nonprofits/ (My team developed a new website for Burten, Bell, Carr Development.)
So the amazing thing about the event is that it’s free for volunteers. The food is 100% paid for by sponsors and the location is “donated” by Burke Lakefront Airport and LeanDog/AKA for the weekend. And they had to feed that huge group 6 meals and 3 days-worth of snacks.
I highly recommend this event for anyone who wants to give back to the community in a way that utilizes your unique skills. It’s unlike any other volunteer experience out there.