Over the past few months, I’ve been working on building up a foundation that aims to help charities and community groups to gain access to software developers and designers in order to build websites, apps and help out with technical issues they have. Today being Thanksgiving Day in the US seems to be a fitting time to announce the project, so I’d like to introduce donate:code.
The idea behind donate:code is simple and obvious. Every charity, school and community group has technology needs. Sometimes it’s a simple website update, or perhaps they need help getting a social network up and running. How about more ambitious charities who want to build an app to generate some extra revenue? There’s just one problem – the cost of getting someone with the technical skills to help. Wouldn’t it be great if someone could donate their time?
Software developers, web and graphic designers excel in their fields. But they know that to be better, they need more experience. Instead of putting time into side projects that go nowhere, why not donate time and expertise to some group that really needs your help. Increase your portfolio, and gain some extra karma while you do. Learn how to work with diverse customers, and make your CV stand out.
Before launching this, I wanted to test the viability of the idea. In doing this I’ve worked on two projects. Firstly, I built Signalong Songs for the Cope Foundation. This is an interactive iPad app that teaches children how to sign along with their favourite nursery rhymes. I didn’t charge a cent for the development of the app, instead requesting that what the charity had budgeted for the app be put to good use in the charity. It proved to me that money wasn’t everything. And it was a fantastic way to give back to charity. I felt that I was onto something.
I also helped out another local charity group in creating a community website for autism awareness. The people behind this charity are true heroes, and it felt great to be able to help them get up and running with a WordPress site that is easy for the Karen, Jon and other volunteers to get news on their fund raising events out, and also to provide support to people affected by autism.
Over the course of building the app and website, along with the site for donate:code itself, I found that there are always people out their willing to help. I managed to get support for the hosting of donate:code, and someone else volunteered their server for another of the projects. It has encouraged me to reach out further.
If you’re a developer or designer who likes the idea of giving, just head on over to donate:code and use the contact form there to volunteer. As much as we need the technical people, we also need the projects to work on: charities and schools, if your budget has prevented you for building the app or website that would make a difference, please contact us too.