Types of organizations that are a good fit
- Localized effort of a wider-scoped problem: There are many social issues that affect citizens across the city and country and around the world. Solving a problem that has the potential to propagate and give value to others will have the most impact. As an organizer, determining this is straight forward with a simple google search.
- Well-connected with city-wide and nation-wide counter parts: To ensure a project can have the most impact to the organization and outside the scope of the organization, it helps to connect with other similar organizations to share news of the hackathon as you may gather some lessons learned or other supporters to continue the projects after the hackathon. At the very least we may find users or testers of the software. As an organizer, this can be determined with a simple conversation.
- Affinity for technology experimentation: It helps when the organization understands the opportunity that exists in experimenting with technology and adopting new concepts. It is most important for the organization to understand the value of access to smart people who like to experiment and do good with technology but having an appetite with the organization is a plus. As an organizer, as above, this can be determined with a simple conversation.
- Organizations the value Collaboration, Transparency, Sharing & Empowerment: Seems obvious but its not a given. It may be ingrained in people if not in the organizational DNA. As an organizer, this will be difficult to ascertain directly but actions and attitude will show it.
What makes up a good project
- The project itself should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely
- The project owner will want to present well to garner support
- The project itself should be technically challenging and somewhat unique
- The technology doesn’t exist and if it does the project owner needs to research and evaluate precedent
- The project is a concept that can be shared with counterparts across the country or around the world
- A project that can continue to grow and evolve
- A project should be architected and name such that it can be shared with other, similar organizations. For example, a project name or project nomenclature shouldn’t include the city name or a building name or an organization name but rather an appropriate name for the app.
What projects don’t work well
- Website design or redesign
- Social media properties
- Fundraising or marketing projects
How nonprofits can prepare for the weekend
- Have great presentation and briefing documentation
- Have participants that will be there and be engaged the whole time. This can range from staff to volunteers to board members to end-users. The more the diversity the better.
- Having a tech lead or champion going into the weekend.
- Have some visitors (peers, colleagues, board members, constituents) throughout the weekend. This helps build support after the hackathon has ended and the project is ramping up.
- Compile data and background material. Have real specific data available if its required in the project. Be sure to redact or destroy personal information. Include supporting literature, brochures, pictures and logos.
- Give a token of appreciation to developers. Thank you cards work, organization swag or something unique to the organization.
- Spread the word on their involvement before and after the hackathon.
What can be done to ensure sustainability
- Preparation in advance to secure funding for ongoing development to pay or hire developers to finish the project.
- Look for grants before and after.
- Aim to have a prototype that can be used in conjunction with funding.
- Investigate partnerships that can enable funding for a project.
- Hackathon organizers can coach the organization to acquire contact information of team members who are willing to stay involved.
- Hackathon organizers can coach the organization on how to engage with developers and follow up. Have initial meeting on the books during the weekend. Have follow up meetings in-person or in the Slack channel.
- Encourage teams to stay connected on Slack.
- Have infrastructure available to host apps
- Connect with local Civic Tech group
- Find company who may want to adopt project after hackathon weekend.