Monday, January 4, 2010

Nerdy Meets Needy

Happy New Year to all! Here's hoping you were able to have time with family and friends and are now refreshed to take on the challenges of a new year. Before the holidays, I made a brief mention of the Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge. The folks at Sierra Bravo are tops on my list for their creativity, their good humor and their service to nonprofits. Mark Malmberg, Communication Manager, explains the challenge and what it brings to nonprofits in Minnesota. And, I've already heard that there are others out there doing similar work. As I get that information I will share it, meanwhile, enjoy this article and the useful links. Bunnie

Nerdy Meets Needy

by Mark Malmberg, Communication Manager
Nerdery Interactive Labs, a division of Sierra Bravo Corporation

Have there been tougher times for nonprofits? The services these organizations provide are arguably in greater need than ever, yet many are struggling just to make ends meet – and too few can afford to invest in websites capable of building online community.

In the first two years of The Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge, volunteer web pros have donated more than half-a-million dollars worth of professional services to 23 Minnesota nonprofits. Here at Nerdery Interactive Labs, a division of Sierra Bravo, we consider this a good start for our annual 24-hour nerdathon, but we also know that there are plenty more good nonprofits with not-so-good websites.

Nonprofits in Minnesota have until January 8 to register for the next Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge, which returns to the Twin Cities for the third time March 20-21 (one nonprofit is already in, with a Golden Ticket). Volunteer interactive pros come not only from our staff at The Nerdery, but from ad agencies we partner with, as well as freelancers, friends, and peers from the Minneapolis-St. Paul interactive community at large. Looking for ways to use their time and talent to give back, these passionate teams of volunteers band together and compete for little more than bragging rights.

In our day jobs here at The Nerdery – when we’re not just giving it away in the wee hours – we spend our normal waking hours serving as the web development partners (OK, nerds) of more than a hundred ad, design and marketing agencies nationwide.

It takes more than a bunch of well-meaning insomniacs to pull off an event like ours, and we’re blessed with sponsors who are incredibly committed to doing what they can to help. Nonprofits this year will receive complimentary education in design and web applications, business analysis or project management from event sponsor New Horizons of Minnesota, which will become Benchmark Learning on January 1. They also get one-year complimentary web-hosting subscription on event sponsor VISI’s ReliaCloud service. In-kind sponsors include Arthouse, Chipotle, Peace Coffee, Pizza Luce’ and Red Bull.

We’ve heard from others around the country who’ve asked our advice on how to go about gathering a small army of web nerds to help nonprofits in their community. This makes our day. Finding worthy and needy nonprofits is the easy part. Finding enough nerds to make a difference is the greater pre-Challenge challenge – and one not as easily resolved overnight. But whether or not anyone else carries this forward elsewhere, let us make our intentions clear:

We’re coming.

Here are a few stories about the nerdy helping the needy:

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