Developers Plus Community Equals Give Camps

As the holidays approach, charities tend to become more front and center. Even without the holidays, developers around the world are stepping up and donating time and services in a very unique manner. The concept of a GiveCamp has taken root and is growing.

What is a Give Camp?

For a perfect explanation of what constitutes a Give Camp, you can visit the Give Camp website at www.GiveCamp.org. In simple terms, it is a gathering of developers and other technology professionals for a short period of time -- usually a weekend -- to create applications or other technical solutions for charities. These are generally done at a local level, although a national (United States) Give Camp is planned for early 2011.

I started writing this article from the Indianapolis Give Camp that happened this past weekend. It started on Friday with a launch at 6:00pm and ran until the closing presentation that started at 4:00pm on Sunday. There are no planned breaks, no working hours, just a starting and a stopping point. Many of the attendees don't leave the event space until the projects are completed. A few will come and go, but overall many will spend all of their waking hours focused on building a solution for a charity. Many will sleep at the event as well.

The attendees are donating their time to help local charities. Prior to the event, a group of volunteers met and organized the event. They worked to connect with local charities that would otherwise not be able to afford six to nine developer's time for 48 hours each. They also looked for charities that would benefit form a solution these developers could create. They looked for charities that needed something that could be done in a week-end. Finally, they looked for charities that were willing to step up and be at the event to help answer the questions and concerns that would arise.

There were lots of charities that fit the criteria.

The volunteer leaders also looked for developers and technologists. For Indianapolis there were over 55 people that volunteered their time. These were .NET developers, designers, project leaders, Drupal experts, and more. The only limiting factor on the number of charities was the number of volunteers that stepped up. For Indianapolis, this equated to nine charities getting help. In other cities the number of volunteers has gone well over 100 allowing even more charities to be helped.

Of course the third component was sponsors. It is always interesting to see how various businesses step up to help with these events. Some places like MoonDog Café and McAllister's step up to help the community with little question. Others, like a pizza place that was used fail to see the altruistic value of the event and give tiny discounts. Regardless, in the end the sponsors help to bring the third piece together for these events, the logistics.

When all this comes together, I think it is a shining moment for the developer and technology community. This is a great way for developers to tap into their skill set and give back to their communities. For one weekend of camping out and working with their peers, the local charities get a bump in what they can. That bump via technology makes for stronger better communities. It is great to see the number of give camps increasing. It is even nicer to see the number of technologists stepping up and volunteering. My hat is off to all those helping to make the Give Camps a success across the world.

IndyGiveCamp was the local Give Camp in my area that I helped with. If you are interested in doing a GiveCamp in your area, visit GiveCamp.org. I'm also happy to provide any guidance I can as well as connect you with others that have done Give Camps.



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