In case you haven't heard, Ann Arbor GiveCamp 2011 is almost here. It is coming up in two weeks, September 16-18. This will be the fourth annual Ann Arbor GiveCamp, and it is again held at WCC. Sign up at http://www.annarborgivecamp.org.
For anyone that is not aware of what GiveCamp is, it is a weekend long Coding-for-Charity event where area software developers, database administrators, graphics designers, and other technologists use their talents to meet the needs of area non-profits in need of technology assistance. That need could range from a new intra-office application to help manage donations and membership rosters, to a new web site spun up on a CMS like Drupal, WordPress or DotNetNuke, or perhaps a new auto-notification system for the blood bank to notify donors when they are again eligible to donate blood. The event and its projects are completely platform agnostic and the sky is the limit; there is only one rule: the project must be scoped for completion within one weekend.
In today's economy, financial donations are down. People are unable to donate to the area charities, or at least are unable to donate as much as they would like to or once did. The local charities like the pet shelter are spending their dollars on dog food and cat litter, and not on their web site and other marketing. As a result, their web site was last refreshed in the 90s, or it was recently rebuilt by the proverbial boss's son or neighbor-kid next door. Their online presence, if they have one at all, doesn't meet the needs of the organization. It lacks a professional's touch.
This year, 40 local charities are asking Ann Arbor GiveCamp to help them with their technology needs. One of the charities for 2011 is Angels of Hope, a local organization that helps local families whose children have pediatric cancer. Angels of Hope uses nearly every dollar donated to pay for utility bills, home repairs, car payments, and medical bills; unfortunately, sometimes that includes funeral services. Imagine if you had a child with cancer; now imagine if you were to lose that child to the disease and were unable to pay for the funeral. What Angels of Hope does to help out the community is very inspiring and very humbling. But their web site is deficient; made in 2001, it does not meet the needs of the organization, and does not do what is required of a web site to market the organization and to provide necessary information to those in need. They have asked for our help to provide a new site so that they can boost their marketing effort, help bring in donations, and help get the word out to other families that the support is there and available.
There 39 other stories like Angel of Hope's. Forty organizations that give all of themselves to improve lives of their neighborhoods, their communities, and people in need. But in order to meet those needs, we need volunteers to complete projects. So far, Ann Arbor GiveCamp only has enough volunteers to meet the needs of 7 charities. Thirty-three charities are on a waiting list, crossing their fingers that more local technologists will give up a weekend and donate their talents. Thirty-three stories will go unheard without additional help from the very community that they seek to improve.
I encourage you to consider volunteering for Ann Arbor GiveCamp. We need your help, the help of your developer friends, your graphic artist co-workers, and the database administrators you have lunch with. Everyone--regardless of their talent level or technology platform--is encouraged and requested to join us in two weeks, to be a part of our inspiring and humbling event, and to join us as we help out those that help others. When you cannot give with your wallets, this is a great opportunity to give back to the community with your time and your talents.
While at Ann Arbor GiveCamp, we will do everything we can to help you complete projects. Hosting accounts have been donated, domains names are pre-registered, and all the food, snacks, and beverages you need to keep going will be on hand throughout the weekend. We have the charities organized, the projects defined and scoped, and we just need you to help get them done.
Thirty-three other charities are still waiting for word. Donate your weekend; sign up to be a volunteer. Tell your friends and colleagues, and have them sign up to be a volunteer. Forward this post on to other groups and mailing lists, and encourage them to volunteer. Help GiveCamp meet its goal of forty completed projects on Sunday, September 18th.
Come be a part of something special.
Learn more and sign up at http://www.annarborgivecamp.org
We'll see you on the 16th.