GiveCamp – Code wrangling weekend for Non-Profits

Well, GRGivecamp is unfortunately over. I had a wonderful time. Despite being physically challenged, everyone there lent a hand with food and coding expertise. I met a lot of wonderful folks and we ate a bunch of great food and drinks from many corporate sponsors such as Bigby Coffee, Panera, Brick House Pizza and Sandman’s BBQ. GiveCamp was started by a Microsoft employee a couple of years ago and continues to grow. There have been two ann Arbor Mi (U of M home – Go Wolverines!) and several in other places. One of organizers, Chris (Woody) Woodruf, is on the national board and said that there are at least five more scheduled across the country in the next few months. I hope there is another in GR  Fall  ’10. (Why do I keep saying “Oh- Ten”?)

What was my experience like? Well, in my case, I was assigned to Neighborhood Ventures, a non-profit that promotes businesses, economic development and community support in GR. Their representative, Sylvia Harris, was a wonderful woman who took the time to really define what they wanted done to their website: This is a LAMP based site that used PHP and jQuery. It was nicely done and hosted by the folks at Community Media Center. Our team, which was lean and mean, consisting mainly of me with a lot of help from floaters (specialists like HTML/Graphics/CSS designers) and some help from GRGiveCamp Cincinnati edition,  had to move some content around and fix up some bugs in Safari and add some links. It was about the right amount of work for one person with a lot of help. I managed to get it done to Sylvia’s satisfaction by the end of the weekend on Sunday, just in time to demo it to the crowd.

We had over a hundred volunteers show up to work on 23 non-profits. Quite a few were using Drupal, .Net Nuke, Joomla and other CMS systems. This seems about the right solution for NP’s as they mainly have content and presentation. There is really no need for the heavy lifting of a framework like Rails or some other app. Although, I counted 2 Rails apps, one of which was BDD driven by Cucumber and RSpec by our team of folks at our Ruby group in GR ( and the developers at Mutually Human Software (one of the corp sponsor.) Whichever tool fits. I think. The organizers did a great job of fitting the wide range of  skills of the various developers to the needs of the NP’s. Every project got done in time, albeit with a lot of all-nighters.

To quote Woody, we may be highly paid consultants in our day jobs, but we don’t feel that NPs should have to pay for tech work. We as citizens of the community all benefit from their services equally. We can afford to give back. 148 strong, the attendance suggests for our little big town, I guess so.


We got quite a bit of media coverage and there are some online stuff you can view:  The Rapidian

WZZM Channel 13  (Sorry no video, but was on TV).


I’ll update this as they become available.



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