NPO’s talk progress as a result of first Charity-IT Hackathon

Explore Assurity 10 April 2014 Alice Chu

I can still remember the feeling of exhaustion and elation as we picked up the last empty beer bottle on Sunday 8 December 2013. Our vision of bridging IT with the local community had just turned to reality.

The office seemed almost eerie after the hectic activity of the weekend and we could still feel remnants of energy and hard work in the room. We had watched how the volunteers worked with the NPO’s from the sidelines and were impressed with how the groups quickly managed themselves into high-performing teams.

Four months on… how have three of the NPOs – Philanthropy New Zealand, The Wellington Soup Kitchen and Kiwi Community Assistance (KCA) – benefited from the first Charity-IT Hackathon?

How have you found the new or improved system?

Philanthropy New Zealand: We like the cosmetic changes to the website; it looks more modern and is now more responsive for mobiles and tablets. Our membership application form is much easier to use and more clearly signalled with a ‘Join Now’ box on the content bar.

The Wellington Soup Kitchen: We are using our new database daily. It is incredibly useful and user-friendly and is definitely assisting us to provide better outcomes for our clients.

KCA: It has been excellent as it has taken away a lot of our manual administration.

What impact has the system had for your organisation?

Philanthropy New Zealand: Our membership person says that she’s had a lot fewer enquiries from potential members about how they sign up; they seem to find the process easier now that the sign-up form is clearer. This has been useful as we recently created a new membership category and have so far signed up 40 members in that category.

The Wellington Soup Kitchen: It is a vast improvement, providing us with reliable stats, improved information sharing, greater collaboration and enhanced capacity for planning.

KCA: The online ordering system has allowed our volunteers to log in and review all the orders to be made up on each particular day. It also gives us an audit trail as the agencies are able to enter and provide us with the demographic area and how many people we are assisting. We can also keep track of our back orders more efficiently.

Have there been any issues?

Philanthropy New Zealand: There were some problems because the changes were made in a different version of Drupal (I think) so when they went live there were some issues with uploading new content and photos which were rectified by our main website company.

The Wellington Soup Kitchen: A few issues around reporting.

KCA: We still have a few glitches which we are hoping to rectify over the upcoming months.

What do you think your next steps are in terms of IT?

Philanthropy New Zealand: We hope to get some kind of event management system up and running – possibly in conjunction with a website redesign.

The Wellington Soup Kitchen: We would like to develop the database further and enhance its portability.

KCA: Moving the website to Drupal and also to extend and enhance the ordering system.

Other comments?

Philanthropy New Zealand: Our team was incredibly hardworking and helpful.

The Wellington Soup Kitchen: This was a fantastic opportunity for us – one that we have recommended to other NPO’s and we would hope you guys get the recognition you deserve! Well done Assurity! Volunteering that makes a massive difference.

KCA: We have been fortunate as three of the Hackathon volunteers have continued to assist our charity in an IT capacity.

Since the first event in December, a new team of organisers made up of old and new members has been busy planning the next hackathon which takes place this weekend (11-13 April). Assurity is sponsoring this latest event by providing financial and venue sponsorship. This time, I’m attending as a volunteer and I’m looking forward to joining the action on the field!

Charity-IT continues to grow and is looking to expand the Hackathon events to Christchurch and Auckland. If you’re an NPO that could benefit from Charity-IT or wish to join the team of organisers, check out our website.