What do you get when you lock 160 self-proclaimed “web nerds” in a room for 24 hours with 16 nonprofits and a seemingly endless supply of caffeine and chicken wings? If you’re lucky, you get one of the most fun pro bono service events we’ve heard of in a long time- the Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge.
Operating out of Minnesota, Nerdery Interactive Labs is a web development company with a heart and a sense of humor. Proud of their nerd status and habit of blending work with play, the Nerdery lives up to its claims of being “home to the most passionate, curious and imaginative nerds anywhere.”
Started by Nerdery in 2008, the Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge is an annual pro bono service marathon that pairs nonprofits with limited or no websites with teams of 9-10 web developers for 24 hours of continuous pro bono website creation. To add to the challenge, teams and nonprofits are not paired until the day of the event.
Though meeting each other and then immediately launching into a full day and night of work could seem daunting, the event screens nonprofits and teams carefully and encourages nonprofits and teams to come prepared. Sponsors also help make the event possible by offering server discounts, pre-event strategy sessions, and complimentary education in design and web applications, business analysis, or project management for the nonprofits, as well as many other in-kind donations.
With so many amazing organizations and teams, this year’s winners set themselves apart by creating and launching a beautiful new website for Dakota Wicohan. This nonprofit – dedicated to preserving Dakota as a living language and through it transmitting the Dakota life ways to future generations – previously had no website and works to preserve a language with 9 fluent/first-generation speakers.
As if all of that is not impressive enough, the event also looks to the future with emphases on both post-event website maintenance and on going green. On the event website, each participating team pledges the level of support it will provide to its nonprofit partner after the event, and each participating nonprofit pledges how their new site will help make the world greener.
Rumor has it Nerdery may be taking this great event to additional cities soon. If you see a bleary-eyed group of web developers wandering Chicago, it could be our favorite pro bono nerds.
Kate Gazzaniga is a Marketing and Communications Fellow at the Taproot Foundation.