New England GiveCamp: "Awesome, simply awesome"
The New England Research and Development Center (NERD) in Cambridge, MA, hosted the first ever New England GiveCamp from June 11-13, 2010. As stated on the GiveCamp site:
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.
The NERD facility was a perfect venue for this event, and we had full run of the first floor conference center, including use of one of the conference rooms (and couches in the halls) as a dormitory for about 30 volunteers who spent both nights there.
New England GiveCamp 2010 was, we believe, the first to employ Scrum for some of the projects. Scrum Masters from Agile Boston were on hand at the event working with two of the non-profit organizations, and they have prepared a whitepaper on their observations and recommendations for future events.
In addition to the project work, six workshops were held on Friday night and Saturday, geared to the non-profit organizations in attendance:
- Social Media Now and in the Future , Joselin Mane (@BostonTweetup)
- MA Regulations for Protecting Personal Information, Jason Egan, Deputy General Counsel for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
- Open Forum: Marketing for Non-profits, Brady Sadler, Griffin, York, and Krause
- Web Security, Greg Howe, leader of Bangor Area .NET Developers
- WordPress: Post GiveCamp Survival Guide, James Coletti, founder Boston WordPress meetup
- Scrum Overview, Bob Chin, Director of PMO and PM Practices
It wasn’t all work and no play…
Oh yeah, there was some fun too… RockBand could beheard at various points during the weekend; s’mores were made (alas via microwave, not open fire); and an “emergency” make-your-own ice cream sundae break was held on Saturday night!
There are three essential elements to a successful GiveCamp: non-profit organizations, volunteers, and sponsors. New England GiveCamp 2010 was fortunate to have an abundance of all three.
All 24 organizations expected were in attendance – three from Connecticut, five from New Hampshire, and the remainder from Massachusetts. The charities (complete list here) included two libraries, a children’s hospital, two domestic violence support centers, two youth organizations, and even a Guinea pig rescue foundation!
Projects were implemented in a variety of technologies with WordPress and Drupal being the most prevalent. Several new web sites were created with SiteFinity and Kentico (both ASP.NET-based), and two new client applications were created - one with WPF and another with Silverlight.
All six New England states (and Virginia!) were represented in the pool of volunteers.
About 20 other volunteers also attended at various times during the weekend to help with meals, registration and other duties.
Although Microsoft was a primary sponsor of the event, there were over two dozen sponsors providing donations of cash and goods, including some amazing raffle prizes (an Xbox 360, 3 Zune HDs, 2 Flip Cameras, and more). Notable contributions included:
- free parking (estimated $1500 value) by Standard Parking, the vendor that operates the garage where NERD is housed.
- $1250 cash donation, use of two coffee brewers, and an endless supply of coffee by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
- $750 cash donation by Teradata
- Meal donations by Bakers’ Best and DiningIn.com
- A 100-serving cake (courtesy of my wife!)
At the end of the event, attendees signed the banner that had been displayed throughout the weekend; some of the sentiments include:
Thanks so much for helping us save lives.
What an amazing experience. I can’t thank everyone enough.
Great cause, great people
Awesome, simply awesome
Even before the event concluded, volunteers and non-profits alike were asking how they can participate in planning for next year’s event. In the days prior to New England GiveCamp 2010, we were also contacted by other non-profit organizations wishing to participate this year, so it’s clear there is a continuing need and desire for this type of event in this district. I’m confident we can garner a similar level of support from the community in coming years to make an annual GiveCamp in New England a reality.