Hackathons Helping Nonprofits: The Overnight Website Challenge Offers Pro Bono Redesigns

The Nerdery’s Overnight Website Challenge, which the Minneapolis-based agency has done in multiple cities for nearly a decade, is designed to give local nonprofits the chance to succeed with the help of some talented creators burning the midnight oil.

Hackathons have gained a lot of currency over the years as a tool for companies to experiment and build out new ideas.

So why not apply the strategy to nonprofits that need the help, too?

That’s been the approach of The Nerdery, a digital agency that focuses on strategy and design issues. Over the past few years, the agency’s charitable foundation has gained attention for its Overnight Website Challenge, in which programmers donate their skills to local nonprofits in cities around the country. Since 2008, the challenge has assisted nonprofits in and around Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota; Chicago; Kansas City, Missouri; and Phoenix.

The most recent event, which took place February 25-26 in Kansas City, brought together 40 employees from The Nerdery and other companies, all of whom put their energy into building websites. The beneficiaries this time around included Centerview Food Allergy Management, Inc.; Corey’s Network, Inc.; Girls Leading Our World, Inc.; and PrincipalsConnect—the latter of which, according to the Kansas City Business Journal, didn’t even have a website.

In comments to the Business Journal, Nerdery Communication Director and Co-President Mark Malmberg noted that the approach has evolved over time and said he hopes the work “changes the game” for the nonprofits they assist. He added that the events tend to be a lot of fun, too.

“I had a blast, personally,” Malmberg told the news outlet. “I think it went really well, and I think the teams were matched well with the nonprofits—I think there was good chemistry.”

People who have worked on such hackathons have generally been stunned at the impact their work has on the nonprofits.

“The biggest takeaway of the event for me was witnessing firsthand the profound impact that something as simple as a new website can have in the lives of not only the nonprofits, but also those whose lives they impact,” Greg Lyon, a former employee of Vodori who took part in a Chicago edition of the challenge, noted in a blog post on that company’s website. “The foundation of many nonprofits is their ability to fundraise, and a professional and elegant digital face can make a monumental impact in their ability to do this.”

The next edition of the Overnight Website Challenge takes place March 18-19 in Chicago.

(via Nerdery's Facebook page)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!