Recently I came upon a community event called GiveCamp.

GiveCamp is a weekend-long event where technology professionals from designers, developers and database administrators to marketers and web strategists donate their time to provide solutions for non-profit organizations. Since its inception in 2007, the GiveCamp program has provided benefits to over 150 charities, with a value of developer and designer time exceeding $1,000,000 in services!

Coming from a very rural part of the country where there is a huge opportunity for charity events like this, it got me wondering. Are there other large movements like GiveCamp that are out there? GiveCamp is sponsored by Microsoft, so of course most are run through .NET user groups. Are there other flavors of it? Different types? Java/Python/other open source charity movements? If not, how do you give back?

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    Honestly I think $$$ exchange is the most efficient form of charity. Just make sure to give an amount that matters.
    – Job
    Jan 12 '11 at 1:04
  • @Job: I see that. Sometimes organizations just need to keep the lights on.
    – Ryan Hayes
    Jan 12 '11 at 1:07
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    I think this is a good question. I once joined a project to create a teach-typing software for blind people when I'm in university. Personally, I think the efforts paid is far more valuable than money. Jan 12 '11 at 4:52
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    @Job while $ is important the value of a good dedicated professional has a lot of potential. I've often thought that it would be cool to see an organization like the Gates Foundation put together a team like this to work on charity projects. Jan 12 '11 at 5:00
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    on same theme programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/31036/…
    – James
    Feb 4 '11 at 9:41

There are two programs which I participate in.

  1. GeekGive - Charities signup to have work done. Volunteers sign up to do the work. Everyone gets together over the weekend; food and space to sleep are provided. The last one I participated in, we performed an estimated 10,000 man/hours of work over 3 days and provided 12 charities with new websites and internal applications. If there's not a local geekgive, consider forming one.
  2. VolunteerMatch - It's like a job board except for volunteers. It's easy to find a charity who wants technical work done on there.

Also, while I'm at it, let me mention Tech Soup Many major companies provide steeply discounted products for charities through there. In many cases the charities need help installing and/or configuring those products.


This answer might be a bit primitve, but the easiest and probably best way to help charities is to use your skills to earn money, and donate money. Sure, it might be more encouraging to fancy how some charity is using your software, your web design etc. but I think they could use your money, too.


The most serious advice I would say is really make sure you understand what the charity actually wants and will use. I helped a homeless charity once, took me 10 minutes tweaking a server config. It wasn't cool, or flash, but it did the job and they were happy. Don't do something just for the sake of being cool.

That said there are lots of groups that try to offer technical help to charities. It doesn't need to be a weekend event.

(Disclaimer: I haven't tried all of these, just heard of them)

Having done a social innovation camp weekend, I would say that it's easy to get ppl for a weekend of cool fun. Getting people to commit afterwards for the long build-up and support is harder. Unfortunately, this is often much more important. Most of the groups from the weekend I went to have since floundered.

That said, good on you and all contributers to this thread for wanting to help.

  • Thanks, James. That's the big thing I'm worried about, too. Training and support afterwards that isn't at all glamorous, but will make whatever we did over the weekend useless if it's not there. I'm trying to focus on projects that require little/no post-event support if I can (possible pipe dream).
    – Ryan Hayes
    Feb 4 '11 at 14:10

Release more open-source free quality products. That itself is a good contribution to the community. If you want you can add a donate button and give the obtained money to charity.

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    While this is good, most charities don't have the technical skills in-house to choose and take an open source product and use it effectively. Remember support is just as important as the software. And I mean direct support, of the sitting down with them and discussing their requirements kind, not just answering queries on your projects mailing-list.
    – James
    Feb 4 '11 at 9:54

This may be obvious, but there's no end of worthwhile organizations that can use a web site upgrade or other IT infrastructure.

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