Wellington NPO’s report on second hackathon progress

Explore Assurity 6 October 2014

Six months after Wellington’s second Assurity-sponsored hackathon, Charity-IT caught up with Helen Brasting from Film for Change and Mike Leon from the Wellington Night Shelter, two of the four NPO’s involved this time round.

Film for Change’s project involved creating a new website so the organisation could start to gain some visibility on the internet. Just like the other charities to have participated in the hackathon, Film for Change’s project has proved a great success and is sustainable for the organisation to maintain.

Wellington Night Shelter’s project involved transforming their paper-based filing system to an online database on customer information, number of stays at the shelter etc. This proved to be a massive undertaking for the weekend and has spilled over to an on-going project for some of the hackathon volunteers. Mike also gave suggestions on how to improve charities’ experiences of the hackathon and further maximise impact. As an early start-up, we are always looking to improve and iterate our idea so his feedback was very constructive. 

How have you found the new or improved system?

Helen: Our website is amazing. We present a pretty amazing aesthetic to the world now and I think we are benefiting a great deal from the amazing work you guys did for us.

Mike: We are still in the process of doing some data entry on the system. There is some background work around the technical aspects of the spreadsheet that needs to be completed, along with documentation on how to use it and functionality to easily extract reports.

What impact has the system had for your organisation?

Helen: It has enabled us to present a professional image to the public and is a great resource for information, getting funding and to advertise our events.

Mike: None at this stage because we are hoping to get some more data inputted to trial manual reporting.

What are your next steps in terms of IT?

Helen: We have a new volunteer who is managing the website. We are pretty lucky to have him and the foundations the Charity-IT volunteers put in place have enabled him to do it with ease.

Mike: We’re looking at obtaining some funding to replace the two computers in the main office – hardware-related upgrades. We are still exploring a client outcomes database. The Charity-IT scope provided a potential platform to measure more for statistics-based demographics reporting. 

Have there been any issues?

Helen: There was some sort of issue around '.php' being in the page name. Our new volunteer is sorting this out with one of the volunteers who helped build it.

Mike: The presented solution at the end of the event wasn’t functional from an end-user point of view. However, a number of volunteers continued working on a solution and a couple of other volunteers outside the original project group put in a great effort to re-work and build the spreadsheet hybrid database after the event to give me something usable. I don’t think the full solution can be rolled out yet but I’m focusing on data entry to see what I can extract in the interim. I am grateful for what’s there.

Other comments?

Helen: Having a zero budget as a charity makes IT near impossible. Without Charity-IT, we would be living in the dark. We will remain eternally grateful.

Mike: Overall, I found it a really enjoyable and worthwhile experience. Seeing a large number of individuals donating their time to the various organisations was very heartwarming and I enjoyed the mix of people in our group. Our volunteers had a particularly good project manager who was useful in bridging the gap between me and the techs in the group.

Charity-IT continues to grow and is looking to expand hackathon events to Christchurch and Auckland. The next hackathon is in Auckland in November so keep an eye out for the event details. If you’re an NPO that could benefit from Charity-IT or wish to join the team of organisers, check out our website.