Sunday, July 21, 2013

Charity Hack the story so far

Earlier this year I spent every Tuesday getting the late train back from Cork to Dublin.

It was on one of these journeys that the idea of Charity Hack germinated.

As a fundraiser for one of the largest charities in Ireland it's quite common for smaller charities to ask for a bit of help or advice on campaigns they want to run or just how they can start fundraising following grant cuts etc.

I, like the rest of my colleagues, do my best. We'll meet for a coffee and share our thoughts, allow people to bounce ideas off us and even pitch an idea or two.


It's always pretty frustrating.

There are so many amazing organizations and so many challenges they face that a 30 minute coffee just doesn't cut it.

Now the obvious solution is to volunteer to help these charities. Take a place on their board or help them with a fundraising event. That would definitely help solve a problem, would make me feel better and might make a difference.


and this is the embarrassing thing. I'm not a great volunteer. I don't sign up to give my time. I don't have any reason not to do it but I don't.

and even if I did volunteer for one organization what happens to all the rest of them?

So I'm back to square one.

Lots of organizations need help and I'm still on the late night train.

I'm on the train, it's dark outside and raining.

But I've got Wifi and my iPad,

I'm saved.

Being the geek I am I'm reading technology websites and there's an article about some company doing a Hack.

Lots of tech companies run Hacks internally, or with their major clients, so that they can focus all their resources over the course of one day or a weekend on a single problem.

Normally Hacks are focussed on a really technical online problem or piece of soft ware but...

What if?

and that's where Charity Hack came from. What if I could get a team of expert charity hackers working on one problem that a charity was facing to help them develop a fundraising campaign in just 12 hours.

I asked around and some people thought it sounded like a good idea so I though 'Let's give it a go'

At the end of April I announced Charity Hack on this blog

and started spreading the word that I was looking for organizations to take part in this event.

What a ride it has been so far:

  • Over 30 charities applied to be part of Charity Hack
  • There are 20 volunteer hackers (some still to be announced) and more to come
  • 5 amazing organisations have been chosen
  • 7000 people have read this blog
  • I've been contacted by people in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and USA to find out about Charity Hack
  • We have a volunteer flying in from the UK to be a hacker
  • I've been interviewed in Texas
  • We've had beer sponsored by a New Yorker
It's been pretty overwhelming really. 

And we're still just at the start of the adventure.

On the 10th August, 40 or so people with gather for Charity Hack. 

Most will be strangers to each other. 

Some will be from organizations hoping that their faith in the concept is justified. 

Some will be the hackers willing to give all they have and hoping it's enough.

I'll be there terrified that it will all go wrong but trying with all my heart to make sure it's the day I'm dreaming of.

A day when this group of 40 strangers will come together to make things better. 

Better for the organizations 

Better for the people they serve

and better for themselves because nobody who gives of themselves for others can ever be left unrewarded.

Will it work out ok?

Who knows? 

But Bring it On.


PS: Are you allowed have ps's in a blog? Anyway.
Today I've been thinking a lot about possibilities and Oprah Winfrey.


Yeah well we all know about Oprah as one of the most powerful women in the world. Owner of her own tv network, the person who created a genre of day time tv, billionaire and the lady who interviewed Lance Armstrong.

But today I've been thinking about the young Oprah, who was raised by a grandmother that was so poor Oprah wore potato sacks going to school. She was abused. Pregnant at 14 and she lost that child not long after it was born.

If you put yourself in that horrible life how hopeful do you think you'd feel? What possibilities do you think you'd see in front of you?

Well this morning randomly I came across this video. It's from a concert honoring Oprah for her career but what struck me is that the little girl you just read about has funded over 60,000 young people to go to college. 

Do you think she ever thought that was possible?

So what else can we do?

PPS: This is just a question. What happens after Charity Hack?

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