A Bit More Info on the Future of The Overnight Website Challenge

As we announced last week, our next Overnight Website Challenge is now planned for early 2017. We had originally hoped to hold our next event in late 2016, but alas, that was not to be.

You can read more about that in our official announcement, but for now, we wanted to take a moment to share more insight about what's ahead:

  • We'll plan for future Overnight Website Challenge events to occur in late winter/early spring -- watch this site for announcements on upcoming dates!

  • Events in different cities will take place on different dates, to provide adequate support for each event and the ability to eventually scale to more markets

  • In 2017, we'll launch at least one additional market for the Overnight Website Challenge (so far, we've had events in the Twin Cities, Chicago, and Kansas City)

  • Going forward, we envision other types of hackathons and other events to assist nonprofits with their technology needs, but The Overnight Website Challenge will remain our flagship event

We remain committed to transforming a new-and-improved Web Challenge event, to build on its history of philanthropy while increasing its impact even more. Future Web Challenges will include more opportunities to engage, and more importantly, more ways for nonprofits to receive support. 

Change to Web Challenge: Awards

In the first half of this year, as we asked for feedback about The Overnight Website Challenge, we were curious about how  participants felt about the competitive nature of the event. 

We weren't totally sure whether participants were in it for the experience, the philanthropy or the glory. (It certainly wasn't for financial gain, since Web Challenge awards have always centered around bragging rights.)

As responses came in, it was great to hear the overwhelming consensus: technologists wanted to do good. Sure, the competition added some fun elements, but their primary goal was in making a difference in their communities. 

Armed with these insights, the next Overnight Website Challenge events will still feature judging and awards, but we're de-emphasizing the competitive aspect of the event. Participants will see:

  • Judges' walkthroughs earlier in the event, focused on each team's vision and plan for the new technology to impact the nonprofit organization
  • More Subject Matter Experts on hand to help any and all teams in their areas of expertise
  • More awards to recognize team efforts in specific categories, but no overall/best-in-show winner

As a result, we hope to make an even bigger difference in our communities. While celebrating the incredible talents of our nerdy volunteers.


New Role for Web Challenge: Strategist/Planner

This past spring, as we gathered feedback about The Overnight Website Challenge, one theme rang out strongly: We could deliver better results if there was more planning.

We took this feedback to heart and considered many ways to address it. Perhaps the teams could be paired up with their nonprofits earlier. Maybe the event needed to extend to multiple days. Or maybe the excitement of a 24-hour challenge would just always deliver limited results. 

After much consideration, the concept of engaging more technologists for a new strategy and planning role took hold. This role allows a tech pro to meet with the nonprofit, discuss the organization and its technology needs, and prioritize the outcomes that can be achieved at the Web Challenge event. 

We're excited about the potential of this effort:

  • Enabling nonprofits to get the most benefit out of the technology services provided
  • Helping web pro teams by providing more context about what to build, and why
  • Engaging more technologists in helping the nonprofit community

To build out this plan, we partnered with the great minds from around the community, including Bill Brown from The Nerdery and Patty Radford Henderson. Together, we created a program that involves strategists leading at least one on-site visit (or video call) with their assigned nonprofit, to learn about the organization and its current technology platform. Strategists then write up a project brief - on a standard template - to assist the web pro teams on the day of the event. Then, at the event, strategists will be present for the first three hours of the day to hand off their work to the web pros.

We're excited to pilot this new role and learn from it. And we can't wait to see what happens as a result of more minds coming together, in new ways, to help our community.