What to expect when you're expecting nerds
Give.MN.org blog, guest post by Mark Malmberg
Nine out of ten nonprofits who’ve experienced The Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge will tell you they won the lottery – and that their team of volunteers was the best of the bunch. We’re doing everything we can to raise this success rate. Combining input from past participants with our own experience as event organizers, we endeavor to set teams and their nonprofits up for a successful slumber-less party.
Nonprofits selected are not guaranteed a new website – one that launches without a hitch, 24 hours after meeting their team. This rare opportunity is just that: an opportunity for nonprofits to have 8-10 interactive professionals at their disposal for 24 hours. Were the meter running for a typical team, their fee would range in neighborhoods near $20,000-$30,000. Instead, volunteers are motivated by friendly competition and geeky goodness.
In an effort to form more perfect unions, we ask applicants – nerds and nonprofits – to agree to a social contract, and to each their own pledge:
Nerds: If my team is selected, I’ll do my best to deliver a good outcome for whatever nonprofit we are assigned to serve. If my team feels our designated nonprofit is asking for more than we can reasonably accomplish in 24 hours, we’ll adjust their expectations – and our scope of work – accordingly. My team will involve our nonprofit in key development and design decisions en route to delivering an interactive product that will further their mission and online presence. I will honor my team’s stated and agreed-upon commitment of ongoing support for our nonprofit.
Nonprofits: If my nonprofit is selected, I’ll treat my volunteer team with due respect during and after the Challenge, knowing that they’ve similarly pledged to do their best to deliver a good outcome for us. If my team of volunteers feels that we, as their designated nonprofit, are asking for more than they can reasonably accomplish in 24 hours, we’ll limit our expectations – and their scope of work – accordingly. I will provide collaborative input into key development and design decisions en route to creating an interactive product that will further our mission and online presence. I will honor my team’s stated and agreed-upon commitment of ongoing support for our nonprofit.
All together now, Kumbaya – in the key of Hard Day’s Night.All who enter into this do so with the very best of intentions. When people invest their time and talent toward a common cause, it’s incredibly gratifying to see it all come together, and ultimately, make a difference in the community. But you can’t just fill a blender with nerds and nonprofits, hit puree and expect a delicious smoothie, every time. In the end, the surprise isn’t that sometimes participants don’t spark a needy-nerdy love connection, but how overwhelmingly often they do.
Since The Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge began in 2008, volunteers from throughout the interactive community have freely given a couple million dollars worth of professional services to nonprofits. The late great Luke Bucklin would probably still call this just a good start. Right again. This science experiment of mixing needy with nerdy is working, but it’s forever a work in progress.
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