Chicago, January 17, 2017 — Having helped 175 nonprofits in since the first Overnight Website Challenge in 2008, The Nerdery and Nerdery Foundation have announced their intent to bring their signature community-service event back to Chicago for the fifth time. Registration for volunteers and nonprofits is open at http://chi2017.overnightwebsitechallenge.com and Web Challenge weekend is March 18-19, 2017 at The Nerdery’s Chicago office.
Feb.10: Nonprofit registration and Strategist/Planner registration closes, but Team Member/Developer registration remains open until Feb. 20.
Feb. 22: Announce nonprofits/teams.
March 8: Pre-Challenge Mixer. Shortly before Web Challenge weekend, The Nerdery convenes team captains and nonprofit reps for an orientation/speed-dating exercise to make best-possible matches between orgs and nerds – but neither the nonprofits nor teams know with whom they’ll be paired until shortly before the 24-hour countdown clock begins ticking on Web Challenge weekend.
March 18-19: Web Challenge Weekend. Official hours are 9 am Saturday through 9 am Sunday, but with set-up and come-down time, you’ll want to otherwise clear your calendar for the entire weekend.
April 6: Web Challenge Awards. Awards night happens a few weeks after Web Challenge weekend. Top teams are recognized for Design/UX, Functionality, and Impact. The People’s Choice award is a crowd-sourced via public voting, based on before/after screenshots, links to new websites and testimonials from nonprofit reps and web pros. Top prize remains bragging rights, and the gratification of nerdy deeds done in the name of community service.
Eligible nonprofits (501c3-registered organizations in Illinois) can apply for the opportunity to direct a team of web pros by articulating their vision of how nerds could further their organization’s mission through better use of interactive technology. Development teams self-organize with 6-12 volunteers covering skill sets required to build a website, including front-end development, back-end development, project management, digital/content strategy, user experience design, graphic design, and quality assurance engineering.
“The Challenge is a community-driven event, by the community and for the community,” said Ginger Bucklin, Executive Director of The Nerdery Foundation, whose mission is to activate the passion and skills of technologists to better our world. “We’re excited to build capacity in the nonprofit community in the Chicago area. And we’ll offer additional opportunities for technologists to connect, grow and volunteer.”
Since the last Web Challenge events, The Nerdery and Nerdery Foundation embarked on a soul-searching listening tour among past participants to learn how we make an already impactful event even more meaningful for volunteers, and more impactful for the nonprofits who benefit.
What we heard: Past volunteers and nonprofits told us they believe the Web Challenge has generally been well executed and fun, check. Most agreed that having a time-constrained event serves a practical purpose, although many expressed a desire to serve without having to stay up all night or work 24 hours straight. We heard consensus that focusing on local nonprofits and local community impact is essential, as is service to organizations that otherwise would have no means to afford the level of service we can provide. We heard consensus on the desire for more planning and strategy with the nonprofits, pre-event. Also, people want more ways to participate as volunteers, including roles for more kinds of subject matter experts (SMEs) – and a broader overall focus on technologies beyond just websites. People told us they’d like to see more events in more markets. We heard that competition isn’t what volunteers sign up for or keeps them coming back; they just want to make a difference. Here are some high-level shifts as the shape of things to come for the Overnight Website Challenge:
Timing: We’ll move away from the all-cities-at-once model and pursue a Phoenix Web Challenge in January, followed by Kansas City in February and then Chicago and Minneapolis in early spring. This approach allows us to try new things, see what works and continue to iterate with a constant focus on outcomes and impact.
Planning: A volunteer strategist will be assigned to each selected nonprofit to gather requirements and prepare a project brief outlining the business problem in need of a technical solution. Not every nonprofit needs a new website, so we’ll look to write other technology prescriptions for whatever ails a particular nonprofit.
Participants: More volunteer roles. Different SMEs. In addition to the strategists doing pre-event assessments, we’ll look for OWC vets to serve as coaches and mentors. Can’t go all night? Come when you can, play your part. Free agents welcome.
Competition: De-emphasized. We’ll still award teams for design and impact and other things, but based on feedback we’ll do away with the overall/best-in-show winner. To that end, many of the additional SME roles will be encouraged to serve as floaters at the event, serving any-and-all teams. Call it a collaborative competition, with judges doing mid-event walkthroughs to assess vision and plan, then check in later on outcomes and impact.
Technology: It won’t just about websites. Volunteers will focus on technology solutions and make things that solve business problems for each individual nonprofit. For volunteers, this means more flexibility in the makeup of their teams. For nonprofits, it means articulate your business problem(s) and we’ll help assemble the right team – and supplement that team with SMEs and floaters who can help.
Foundational steps: The Nerdery Foundation’s Executive Director Ginger Bucklin has played just about every role a person can play at the Overnight Website Challenge. During year one, she and the late Luke Bucklin (Nerdery co-founder) were general volunteers helping run the logistics of a first-time event. Ginger expanded her general-volunteer role several more times, but she’s also served as a volunteer on a web team, and another year she advised her nonprofit client before, during and after the event. Most recently, she served as a Web Challenge judge. As The Nerdery’s President, Luke was also a founding board member of The Nerdery Foundation. Through the Overnight Website Challenge, volunteers in communities where our Nerds live and work have donated more than $6 million in professional services to 175 nonprofits. Luke would still calling this “a good start” just as he did in the humble beginnings of our first few Web Challenge events. Here’s to another good start – a new start – this time with Ginger leading our way.
The Nerdery Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, works to activate technologists to use their talents and skills to better our world. Through its flagship event, The Overnight Website Challenge, over 1000 volunteer web pros have donated about $6 million in pro bono services to 175 nonprofits. Like-minded companies/foundations interested in sponsorship opportunities or donations should contact us.
About The Nerdery
Our Presenting Sponsor, The Nerdery is a digital strategy consultancy of human-centered designers and software engineers. The Nerdery’s mission is pursuing yours by orchestrating change, transforming companies into software companies. Founded by three programming pioneers in 2003, The Nerdery was built on the belief that passionate Nerds are the driving force behind business breakthroughs. Headquartered in the Twin Cities with offices in Chicago, Kansas City and Phoenix, The Nerdery is professional home of about 500 software engineers, user experience designers, quality assurance engineers and other Nerds whose purpose is to redefine what’s possible through technology. The Nerdery’s core services are mobile applications, web applications, websites, systems integration and digital consulting. The Nerdery’s vision is to be the best place in the world for Nerds to work. Nerdery clients pursuing digital transformation realize the impact of engaged Nerds immersed in a collaborative culture of innovation. The Nerdery won a BOLD Award from the Association for Corporate Growth for fostering a culture of distributed leadership, articulated by the late Luke Bucklin, Nerdery President and co-founder: “Put your business card on the desk in front of you...This card does not define you. You are a Co-President. You are bigger than your defined role...Play your part – transcend your job title, be a hero.” Watch Nerdery co-founder Mike Derheim’s TEDx Talk, titled “What if everyone at your company was a Co-President?” The Nerdery has made Inc. Magazine’s list of fastest growing private companies each year since becoming eligible and appeared on multiple top workplace lists. The Nerdery’s core values are rooted in reflective analysis of how Nerds have made decisions in the past, and in how the company intends to keep moving forward in order to form a more perfect Nerdery: Be humble; Constantly push boundaries; Integrity in all circumstances; Solve problems pragmatically; Win by empowering people.