Monday, December 30, 2013

Charity Hack Revisited - ACT for Meningitis

What happened after Charity Hack?

We've been asked by lots of people what happened to the organisations after the first Charity Hack?

Did it make a difference?

Was it all just a big waste of time?

+Laura Ryder returned to the charities to see how the Charity Hack experience impacted them

Here she speaks to Siobhan Carroll from ACT for Meningitis.

“You need to go in with an open mind, and be ready to take negative and positive comments on board.”

ACT for Meningitis CEO Siobhan Carroll came to Charity Hack with a big plan - to create a national one day awareness campaign. She went away happy with an entirely different plan - working towards the national stage community by community.

ACT for Meningitis is a very personal charity created in the wake of tragedy. In 2008 Siobhan and Noel Carroll lost their precious four year old daughter Aoibhe to meningitis, and in 2011 they established ACT for Meningitis.

The Galway-based charity’s aim is twofold - to raise awareness about meningitis countrywide and to support those who have been affected by it.

The charity’s obstacles - as Siobhan saw them in the lead up to August’s Charity Hack - were a lack of loyal donors, no government funding, higher costs than larger charities and no real presence in the charity sector, with the problem of presence the most pressing issue.

“Our big plan was to launch a one day national campaign,” she told me when I caught up with her this week, “but by the time we were finished we’d decided to work on more community-based projects.”

Allowing yourself to buy into an alternative plan isn’t the easiest thing to do, particularly when the cause is so close to your heart.

“You need to go in with an open mind, and be ready to take negative and positive comments on board,” Siobhan warned.

Moving the focus from national to local has really worked however, and is something Siobhan is delighted about now.

“I’m a lot happier,” she explained, outlining local projects including community awareness talks, remembrance walks and a fight night that have already taken place.

“The idea was to go to small communities to do awareness talks and let people find out about the charity,” Siobhan explained, adding that the hope is for word to spread to a more national arena one community at a time.

“It’s been really successful,” she added. “People really want to work on that level with us and we have plans to go to more counties in the New Year.”

What’s putting a smile on Siobhan’s face right now is the structure Charity Hack helped put in place for the organisation, which she says will really help them to move forward. “We’re just seeing what works locally and then we’ll take that national,” she said.

The ACT for Meningitis team really bonded with their dedicated hackers on August 10, though tough love definitely played a part in the day.

“Their advice was invaluable,” Siobhan says of hackers. “I definitely would recommend any charity to go and spend the day there. It really is an experience that will stay with you. You learn so much in such a short space of time. Without a doubt it is not to be missed. It really can make such a big difference.

ACT for Meningitis

You can read Laura's pre hack interview with ACT for Meningitis here and watch James Keatings video of their experience on the day here

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