General FAQ

Charity FAQ  | Volunteers FAQ

What is GiveCamp?

GiveCamp is a weekend-long event where software developers, designers, and database administrators donate their time to create custom software for non-profit organizations. There is a short informational video at the bottom of our  Home Page that explains more about the GiveCamp idea.

Who Started GiveCamp?

GiveCamp was an idea hatched by Chris Koenig, Developer Evangelist for Microsoft, as a way to try to channel the raw energy of the local Dallas developer community towards something that would benefit the local community. Dallas ASP.NET User Group leader Toi Wright organized and ran the first ever GiveCamp, calling the event “We Are Microsoft Charity Challenge Weekend” in January of 2008. At that event, we served 18 charities with over 80 developers to great success!

Why did you start GiveCamp?

Developers code – it’s what they do. GiveCamp was started as a way to try to channel that raw energy and passion for development towards something that would benefit local communities.

How do you select non-profits for GiveCamp?

The selection of the non-profit organizations that participate in GiveCamp is determined by each organizing event. Each group has different criteria for selecting non-profits than others. Generally, though, we try to select non-profits where we can achieve the greatest impact by helping them out. A charity without a website is more likely to get selected than a charity with an extensive web site. We also look at the request that’s being made – we try to focus on getting very clear requirements on what the non-profit is looking for and is something that can be achieved over a marathon-coding weekend by a team of approximately 5 developers.

How can developers help?

Developers are the life-blood of GiveCamp. In its current state, GiveCamp is all about building websites for non-profits. Developers can help by volunteering to be a developer for an upcoming GiveCamp event in their area, bring in their own team to work a GiveCamp event, or even by contacting to volunteer to work on the GiveCamp website!

How can non-developers help?

There are several ways that non-developers can help. Before the event begins, there is a LOT of work required to organize everything for the GiveCamp weekend. We can always use a few extra “business analysts” to rev iew the participation submissions made by non-profit organizations and help in the selection committee. On the day of the event, you also have a few choices for helping out. First, volunteers are usually needed to help with things like setting out food, stocking the refrigerator, cleanup, blogging, podcasting and generally just checking up on the teams to see how they’re doing. If you do have some technical skills that are not programming skills, the GiveCamp events are usually very much in need of web designers to help make the web sites they’re building look great. Web designers will also often get the extra benefit of working on multiple web site projects during the weekend. DBAs are also often valuable. They too will often get a chance to work with multiple teams and share their skills with multiple non-profits. The bottom line is – if you want to participate in a GiveCamp event, we’ll find a way for you to do it!

What tools can developers use to build applications at GiveCamp?

This depends on the event, but in general you can use whatever tool you have handy. Some events focus on a specific technology – like Microsoft .NET – to develop the web applications, so using tools like Expression Web or Visual Studio are often very valuable. GiveCamp does not typically provide the developer any tools, so you’ll need to bring those yourself. We do, however, have some great partnerships with several companies that have software packages that developers might find valuable including control toolkits and ready-to-go CMS packages.

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.