ImpactNPO Dunedin Hackathon Weekend

The inaugural Dunedin ImpactNPO Hackathon Weekend brought together volunteers with tech, design, and business skills, to help provide tech solutions for three local charities. SHIFT student Nathan Moffatt took part, and shares his experiences here.

Signal was excited to host the hackathon over the weekend of 9-11 November at its Dunedin Vogel Street studio.  It welcomed participants and the charities, which included:

  • Dunedin Curtain Bank - Collect unused or unwanted curtains, tidy them up, then distribute to those that need them.
    • Needed help with their website. Their content is currently on Google sites but wanted it tidied up and properly hosted.
  • Able - Southern Family Support - Support families that care for someone with a mental illness or addiction.
    • Needed help with their IT strategy being less reliant on current service providers. Planned to use money saved to help families.
  • NZ Sea Lion Trust - A volunteer organisation working closely with the Department of Conservation to provide protection and education about this critically endangered species.
    • Needed help modernising their website and wanted the ability to update it themselves.

A small, but keen group of volunteers were on hand to provide assistance to these very worthwhile charities. For the purpose of this article I’ll explain my involvement with the NZ Sea Lion Trust.

The event kicked-off with the charities giving a brief presentation on who they were, what they do, and what they wanted help with over the weekend. Hackathon participates then formed small groups and spent time with each charity getting a better understanding of what each wanted and where participants might be best suited to help.

Once teams formed and charities were selected, participants worked with their charity to make a plan that determined their principal focus, and what might be achievable over the weekend.

The focus for the NZ Sea Lion Trust was to be able to display items for sale on their website, with the money from items sold going towards helping with the work their volunteers do. They needed an e-commerce solution.

A member of my group, Jack, had a template for an e-commerce site that we were able to utilise. This made it much easier for us to achieve what we wanted over the weekend, plus we could help in other areas too.

I was tasked with adding items for sale to the site, and I also created an instructional document outlining the steps needed to do this task so the charity could edit and add items themselves. It was also helpful for John from the trust to sit down with me and go through the process himself. A couple of simple, but appreciated contributions.

It wasn’t all plain sailing. The permissions the trust had for their website were not enough to enable us to do what we wanted. Thankfully by the morning of the final day, the trust had been sent a file dump of the whole site.

Updating the site was not as simple as we had hoped and in the end we had an ambitious plan to create a new site before the end of the final day, but the clock was ticking.

We split up the tasks and got to work. I created new pages and saved content from the old site that we wanted to keep. After some challenges (and trial and error), we managed to get the main layout of the site completed before the event wrapped up. We also managed to squeeze in some training on how to update the site.

Given the time pressures we faced we didn’t complete all aspects of the new site, but we were confident, using their new skills, the trust would be able to complete the rest of the website.

Since the Hackathon weekend the site has indeed been developed further by the trust, and is looking great. Check it out: https://www.sealiontrust.org.nz/

The weekend concluded with all groups giving a presentation, sharing what had been achieved over the weekend. At the beginning of the event I didn’t know what to expect or what we would be doing, but by the end everyone felt a sense of pride and accomplishment. Most importantly all the charities were very pleased with what they received.

I would definitely recommend being involved with future ImpactNPO Hackathon events.

Best wishes to all of the charities involved – all very worthwhile organisations doing wonderful work in our community and for our environment.

Posted: Tuesday December 11, 2018