GiveCamp NWA organizers are looking for nonprofit organizations and volunteers to participate in their first hybrid event in October.
The organization, which has been serving Northwest Arkansas for more than a decade, empowers other nonprofits by providing them with various technology tools, according to GiveCamp NWA’s website. Removing technology barriers helps nonprofits better engage sponsors, tell their story, accept donations, recruit volunteers and more.
The event is scheduled for Oct. 1-3 and will take place in Teslar Software’s upstairs meeting space in Springdale. Nonprofits and volunteers will have the option to participate remotely if they prefer.
Volunteers will help nonprofits build a website, establish or strengthen social media presence and provide other necessary digital tools. The camp is reducing the maximum number of nonprofits and volunteer teams from 12 to eight to accommodate a smaller space, but GiveCamp’s overall impact is not expected to be reduced, Board Member Jamie Smith says. Organizers began offering quarterly “mini GiveCamps” at the end of 2020, which involve only one nonprofit and volunteer team. Through the annual major event and these mini-camps, organizers expect to serve the same number of nonprofits annually.
Last year’s larger GiveCamp event operated completely remotely because of the pandemic, and organizers found that the format allowed for volunteers who did not live in Northwest Arkansas to participate. Offering the hybrid option this year will allow people to still take part even if they are not in Northwest Arkansas at the time or don’t feel comfortable attending in person, NWA Board President Chris Whittle says.
The global research and advising company Gartner predicted that by 2020, customers would “manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human.” It is especially important now with social distancing and other practices related to the pandemic that nonprofits be able to communicate in ways that are not necessarily face to face, Smith says.
“Nonprofits need to have those tools in their arsenal, especially for the people that even without covid or without the restrictions, that’s just how they prefer to be communicated with,” Smith says.
Whittle has seen several nonprofits start completely from scratch and come away from the camp with a website, logo and maybe even a marketing direction they had not thought of before. Some nonprofits have come in having a general website, and volunteers have worked with them to make their website more mobile friendly.
Sara White started volunteering for the camp in 2017 after Whittle came to talk to her software engineering class. White’s employer SupplyPike, which is a company that builds innovative tools to help suppliers succeed, has been a key sponsor of GiveCamp NWA for the past couple of years. Plenty of people from her company volunteer for GiveCamp NWA as well, White says.
White has volunteered in positions such as a project manager, WordPress developer and content writer. It is important to help nonprofits tell their stories through compelling and attractive websites, because it helps them to attract donors, volunteers and people looking for the types of services they offer, White says. She has talked to many nonprofits who did not previously know the value of having a website and being easily searchable on the internet before attending the camp.
Volunteering for GiveCamp NWA has helped White and many other volunteers further their technology skills. There were several volunteers who came to the 2020 GiveCamp with minimal knowledge of WordPress, but left the camp feeling much more comfortable navigating it, White says.
“Being a GiveCamp NWA volunteer is a really fun experience, and you get to test and grow your skills, and that’s something you can stick on your resume,” White says. “It’s really exciting to be able to use the opportunity to learn and grow as a person.”
GiveCamp NWA Communications Director Cynthia Maggard has been working as a volunteer for the camp for three years. Last year she consulted virtually with two teams regarding social media strategies, and it was disappointing to not be able to meet with them in person, she says.
“We look forward to this annual event in person every year, being able to get together and spend three days doing what we love,” Maggard says.
However, she thinks having the hybrid option this year will help bring more volunteers and nonprofits together for the event.
Any organization looking to participate in GiveCamp NWA must be a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, be based in Arkansas and serve Northwest Arkansas or the River Valley in some way, according to the GiveCamp NWA website. The proposed project must be feasible for a volunteer team to complete in a single weekend, and a representative with decision-making power and knowledge of the nonprofit must be present for the entire weekend. This representative does not have to be the same person the entire time.
The key volunteer roles needed include project managers, designers, developers, writers and people to help set up the camp and run registration. There is a growing need for volunteers with expertise in SEO, security, social media and the Microsoft and Google platforms.
“It’s always a balancing act trying to make sure you have the right volunteers to go with the right project,” Smith says.
What: GiveCamp provides technology tools for other nonprofits
When: Oct. 1-3
How: Nonprofit applications are open until Aug. 6; applications for volunteers will open shortly after that
How to apply: Nonprofit applications can be found under the nonprofit tab on the organization’s website and volunteer applications are under the corresponding tab.