Local nonprofits and charities help a community’s most vulnerable members in their times of need. Sometimes, those organizations can use help too.
That’s the idea behind Ann Arbor Give Camp, which supplies nonprofits free software support during one whirlwind weekend each year when dozens of tech experts camp out in the Business Education building at Washtenaw Community College. The nonprofits walk away with websites tailored to their needs, programming enhancements, training in content management systems and more.
“It’s a lot like Habitat for Humanity,” said Give Camp President Jay Harris. “But instead of swinging hammers, our volunteers are banging away on a keyboard.”
“Website development is expensive and most nonprofits don’t have the money for it,” said Gretchen Waters, director of the Washtenaw Contractors Association, which connects independent building contractors with jobs and employers. “Give Camp has been an unbelievable resource to our organization.”
The WCA is small, with just the equivalent of 1.6 full-time employees, so finding the time or money to create a website is difficult. But because of Give Camp, the WCA has a tailored, functioning website, and Waters and her staff are trained on the content management system to update it.
Waters has attended Give Camp three times, advising the tech volunteers on her nonprofit’s needs. “If we didn’t have WCC there couldn’t be Give Camp,” Waters said. “It’s the perfect setting.”
WCC donates rooms in the Business Education building for the Give Camp weekend. The college also makes sure building and technology needs are met, with staff troubleshooting wireless issues and keeping parking lot lights on.
WCC has been the site of Give Camp since it began eight years ago. The most recent Give Camp took place from Sept. 19 to 21, and eight charities benefitted: A Beautiful Me; Cap Kit, Inc.; Community Voice International; the Flint River Watershed Coalition; My Life, Our Journey; Ryan Rocks! Outdoor Adventures; Riverfolk Music and Arts and the Washtenaw Contractors Association.
Steve York is a volunteer board member for Angels of Hope, which supports children and families who are battling cancer. Give Camp created and launched a website for the nonprofit in 2012. Since then, York, who works in the tech industry and is a member of the Society of Information Management, has encouraged his peers to volunteer at the annual event.
“If you volunteer with Give Camp, you’re helping not just one but many charities,” York said.
The next Ann Arbor Give Camp will take place in Fall 2015, but it reviews proposals year-round. Go to annarborgivecamp.org for more information.