Bloomington nonprofit group will get virtual makeover
By Mike Hanks - Sun Newspapers
A Bloomington company and a cast of volunteers are going to do what they do best, and they're going to stay up all night doing it.
The third annual Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge is March 20-21 in St. Paul. The web development company invites volunteer teams to build websites for nonprofit organizations throughout Minnesota.
The challenge is a friendly competition where teams of web designers build new websites for selected nonprofit organizations during a marathon 24-hour session. This year 16 teams of web designers will gather March 20-21 at the Continuing Education and Conference Center on the University of Minnesota's St. Paul campus, according to Mark Malmberg, communications manager for Nerdery Interactive Labs, the Bloomington-based organizer of the event.
The event is a way for web designers to donate their talent to nonprofit agencies in need of a new look for their Internet presence, as well as "an excuse for them to get together and do what they like to do," Malmberg said.
"They're competing for bragging rights," he noted.
It's a labor of love, but it's also an endurance test. Teams do all of the work during the competition, and remain at the conference center throughout the 24-hour competition. And it's not just the web designers who work through the night, representatives of the benefiting nonprofit organizations will be working alongside them.
One of those representatives is Connie Klaers of Minneapolis, president of Bloomington Chorale. Her choral music group has had a website since 2003, but it's slow to load and a bit generic in design. And she'd be the first to admit it, she cobbled it together using a template several years ago. Without the technical expertise to build a website, her organization has lived with its simple, outdated web presence all these years.
Bloomington Chorale was one of about 50 organizations to apply for the project. Originally there were going to be 12 benefiting organizations, but the event ended up with enough volunteers, and space, to assemble 16 teams.
Klaers learned her organization was one of the lucky 16 on Jan. 26. "I was surprised, and I was happily surprised," she said.
"We've been talking about the need to improve our website," she added. "The timing of this was very nice.
"We know that our website is not helping us."
For every organization that benefits from the competition, there are two more that don't, at least not this year. When Malmberg sends out e-mails to notify organizations that they've been selected, "I feel like Santa Claus," he said.
It's hard, however, to have to tell other organizations they weren't selected. But in those e-mails he encourages organizations to consider next year's competition. "There will be a next time," he said.
"Our company is committed to doing this year after year."
Thus far 23 organizations have benefited from the challenge in its first two years. Volunteers not affiliated with Nerdery judge the applications, as well as the end results. When selecting benefiting agencies, a variety of criteria are considered, including testimonials from supporters, all of which is available for review at the competition's website.
In addition to receiving a new website, each organization also receives hosting service for the new site, as well as training about how to maintain and update the site, all of which is donated as well, Malmberg noted.
And for those who donate 24 hours to the website challenge, Nerdery arranges food and beverage donations from a variety of area businesses.
Information about the event, and details about the 16 organizations benefiting from it, is available online at www.overnightwebsitechallenge.com. The chorale's antiquated website is available at www.bloomingtonchorale.com.
Office: (952) 948.1211 x1069
Cell: (612) 850.3178
Related In the News
|10/16/08||Web company donates to charity by design|
|12/28/09||Nerds ride to the rescue of nonprofits with web pages, MPLS Star Tribune|
|12/31/09||Overnight Website Challenge is Back|
|12/31/09||Overnight brief, St. Paul Pioneer Press|
|02/18/10||Bring on the Nerds!|