Code Alliance connects nonprofits with tech volunteers

Code Alliance connects nonprofits with tech volunteers

Code Alliance connects nonprofits with tech volunteers
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Code Alliance is a Benetech initiative that connects technology professionals to volunteer opportunities with open source software projects for social good. On the first day of the CHI4GOOD conference, we brought over 40 projects to the San Jose Convention Center to participate in a hack4good Day of Service event.

More than 100 developers, UX designers, and researchers came together to help our nonprofit cohort with their technological needs. The nonprofits benefitted from expert technical development work, and the volunteers were gracious, skilled, and excited to leverage their professional skills to give back.

One of the projects Benetech brought to the event was Martus, our open source software application that allows users anywhere in the world to securely gather and organize information about human rights violations. That day, a team of six volunteers helped us produce a fully mapped-out solution to an authentication problem we were having.

"They created an actual working prototype that the Human Rights Program team at Benetech can now begin digesting and building into a full-fledged Martus tool with the potential to save lives and diminish human suffering," Benetech community manager Amaya Webster said.

But Martus wasn't the only project that benefited from the event. Many other organizations experienced meaningful and effective collaborations with their volunteer teams.

"The CHI4GOOD volunteers built us front-end code that was very clean and well done. The template was mobile-friendly and responsive, and it was easy to port that over to our stack and hosting situation," Coworker.org's Jess Kutch said.

BitGive told us that they had a wonderful experience as well. They had a few challenges at the start getting people up to speed on their project, but they soon found that they came out of their brainstorming session with some excellent insights, questions, and ideas for the ultimate layout, flow, and design of their Donation Transparency Platform. The team had fun working with the volunteers and said that the work was done well.

Another organization, Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence, also made significant progress. Most of the work included scoping out the project with wireframes and creating specific design notes to help the organization move forward. The volunteer team created high-fidelity mockups of the design and started working on the HTML code on the donation page. They also discussed adding some AngularJS to the back end of a new page.

Root & Rebound also said that they were quite grateful for being able to get development help on the Day of Service. Through their work with developers, they were able to advance their online presence to continue meeting the needs of the 50,000 Californians who leave our prisons and jails each year looking for a second chance for themselves and their families.

Root & Rebound is one organization that was particularly interested in continuing the relationship with their volunteers and with Code Alliance. Their goal is to become a technical nonprofit, and they asked whether there would be follow-up opportunities to get more help and guidance. I recently visited their office to help them understand how to leverage more open source resources to advance their development, and will continue to work with them on growing their technological capabilities.

In all, there were over 30 nonprofits and about 40 projects that the volunteers contributed to. We're extremely excited for next year's event, and would like to thank Kathy Baxter for helping organize the Day of Service with us.

The Code Alliance Initiative at Benetech was created with events like this in mind. Our mission is to help nonprofits connect to opportunities such as CHI4GOOD's Day of Service. We believe in building a community of technical professionals who want to help nonprofits scale impact.

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About the author

Deep Datta - Deep is a Bay Area technologist, a global humanitarian, and an open source advocate who works as Head of Technical Communities at Benetech. He's interested in social innovation, open source communities, economic development, and civic technology. His current position at Benetech involves running the Code Alliance Initiative, which connects high-tech volunteers to nonprofits that need help scaling social impact. Having parents who both educated themselves out of trying conditions in India – Deep...