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Charity Hackathons in 2017

When we were looking forward to 2017, one of our goals was to work with local WordPress communities to organize charity hackathons in order to help non-profits benefit from open source tools. We made sure to achieve this goal by bringing the do_action event series into our program.

do_action is a charity hackathon that uses WordPress to uplift local communities by having volunteers come together to build websites for non-profit organizations.

Over the course of the year, we supported four local communities in running do_action events – Johannesburg, Beirut, Cape Town and Montreal. Each event was very successful, resulting in a total of 122 volunteers building WordPress sites for 17 different non-profits organizations — with the financial and logistical support from the WordPress Foundation to make it all possible.

Here is a small selection of the sites that were created at these hackathons:

Along with their websites, the non-profits also received invaluable WordPress training, making these events educational as well as charitable.

Looking back

We chatted to the organizers of the four events this year to get an idea of why they chose to do them, and how they feel about it all – they had some interesting insight into their events and the impact that the do_action events can have worldwide.

Beirut

The Beirut event was held on July 8 — they had 30 volunteers attending and helped 3 organizations get online with WordPress.

The primary organizer for the Beirut event, Marina Pape, had a great team working with her to make it happen. She said that “do_action seemed a good fit as the tech scene in Beirut is pretty alive and there are a lot of NGOs doing great stuff, but needing websites.”

Group of participants from do_action BeirutThe event “went smoothly, with a great group of people. It met the goal of rallying the WordPress community, creating connections between WordPress developers, designers, and marketing people.”

Marina and the Beirut community are interested in organizing another event in the do_action series for 2018.

Cape Town

This was Cape Town’s fourth annual do_action event — this year they held the event on July 15 and had 70 volunteers working to build new WordPress websites for 9 organizations.

I was the lead organizer for the Cape Town event and we put the event together because we wanted to open our local WordPress community to the broader community of Cape Town and using our web-building skills for this just made sense — we, as a WordPress community, have all the skills needed to build a great online presence for anyone. Couple that with the fact that there is a lot of need amongst Cape Town non-profits for this kind of thing, and an event like this becomes the logical next step.

Cape Town do_action participants working on the non-profits websites
Photo by Basil Parker: Instagram @basilparker

While it’s difficult to gauge the impact of a do_action event in its entirety, we’re confident that we met the goals for the day. The non-profits all left with great new websites along with training on how to use them effectively in order to grow their own causes — that’s the goal of this event.

Aside from the broader impact of the non-profits being more empowered to continue their good work, our WordPress community worked together in a way that we never have before — the impact of this on each of us as individuals and our community as a whole has been fantastic. We now have a greater awareness for organizations outside of our usual circle, and we have shown that we can use WordPress as a powerful tool to provide a dynamic platform for any non-profit organization.

Johannesburg

Johannesburg held their event on February 4; 10 volunteers attended and they helped 1 charity with a new WordPress website.

Seagyn Davis, who was the lead organizer for the Johannesburg event, said that they “always love giving towards good causes and do_action is a great initiative that allows them to use the great skills found in the WordPress community to do something really great for someone who really needs it.”

When we asked about the possibility of doing do_action again in 2018, he said that “the people that were involved really loved it and would do it again” — they are in the process of recruiting an organizing team for the next event already.

Montreal

Montreal hosted their event on October 14 — they had 28 volunteers coming together to build WordPress websites for 4 organizations.

The motivation behind the Sasha Endoh’s plans in leading the Montreal event, was that though her “business is focused on working with non-profit clients, there are many times when smaller organizations who do important work can’t quite afford to hire a professional team for their project.” She wanted to give back to the community “by giving support to these organizations and helping them have a greater impact.”

Montreal do_action participants working on the non-profits websites
Photo by Jer Clarke: jerclarke.org

When asked after the event about what impact she felt the hackathon had on the broader community of Montreal, Sasha commented that, by assisting the organizations that took part, “we hope to have helped to bring more cultural events, create a community space, connect and support folks who’ve been through the foster (care) and adoption system, and put a dent in the abandoned animal problem in our city.”

“It was amazing to see so many different folks come together for a good cause — the organizing team is eager to go to work on the next event!”

Looking ahead

The plan for 2018 is to continue promoting the do_action hackathons and supporting more communities that wish to organize them, around the world. There are already four events on the schedule for next year – three of which are in cities that have never hosted one before (Bristol, Pune and Zurich) along with one returning city (Cape Town) – and we fully expect at least another five communities to be organizing their own events over the course of the year too.

If you’d like to become an organizer for a local do_action event, you can find out more in the organizer’s handbook.

To help support this program, and the WordPress Foundation’s other efforts to educate people about open source and WordPress, you can donate here!

2017 Kim Parsell Scholarship Recipient: Bianca Welds

This year’s Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship recipient has been selected by members of the WordPress global community team. Over the past two years, Bianca Welds has worked with the local community to bring education around technology and help others achieve entrepreneurial success in the online space. Currently residing in Kingston, Jamaica, Welds is a new contributor and is ready to kickstart progress in her community.

You can read more about Bianca and what led her to this opportunity on the WordCamp US site. More information on the scholarship, including information on past recipients, is available here.

Call for Organizers: Introduction to Open Source

To further the WordPress Foundation’s charter to educate the public about WordPress and related open source software (OSS), we want to sponsor a new series of workshops/training events introducing people to open source.

Specifically, we want to shine more light on the potential of open source software in countries where there is less participation in OSS projects. To help spread the word about the potential that open source has to offer, we’d like to provide financial support for two educational events this year, to be organized in parts of the world with less participation in open source: Latin and South America, Africa, Oceania, and Asia*. Here’s what we have in mind:

Event title: Introduction to Open Source

Event description: What do people mean when they use the term Open Source when referring to software? This workshop will cover that question as well as what the GPL software license provides, why WordPress is an open-source project, and how this is important for both the users of WordPress and the contributors to WordPress.

Event purpose: Spread knowledge and understanding of the open web and open source through two-hour training events, staffed and organized by local communities, and financially supported by the WordPress Foundation, using training materials here: https://make.wordpress.org/training/handbook/user-lessons/what-is-open-source/ and https://make.wordpress.org/training/handbook/user-lessons/what-can-you-do-with-wordpress/

Financial support: up to $500 USD per event, available to defray costs associated with event venue, refreshments, and/or videography.

Expectations for organizers: Event should be free of cost, open to anyone, and organized/held in 2017. Strong preference will be given to organizers who are already members of a community group that is part of the WordPress open source project’s meetup chapter program, but has not yet organized a WordCamp. Organizers should not need to solicit additional event sponsorship. Financial support will be provided via Paypal or wire transfer, and will require documentation.

Interested in organizing an event like this? Fill out this 10-question application!

We’ll close applications on August 21, and notify the successful applicants no later than September 8, 2017.

*According to a recent study, the majority of Github participation in OSS projects is centered in North America and Western and Northern Europe.

Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship

We’ve added information on the Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship, which provides funding annually for a woman who contributes to WordPress to attend WordCamp US, to our site. We’ll also announce the 2017 awardee here, when this year’s selection process is complete.

The Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship supports the mission of the WordPress Foundation to democratize publishing, supporting participation in open source by people who are historically underrepresented in the world of tech.

Financial Reports Available

Financial reports from 2013, 2014, and 2015 are now posted and available. Later this year we’ll close the books on 2016 and share those as well. Part of our mission is to ensure free access to the software projects we support, which we do in many ways including educational events, financial support of non-profits, and charity hackathons.

Some highlights of our work in the past three years:
– In 2013 we had $848,925 in sponsorship donations funding 71 WordCamps, 40 of which were international.
– In 2014, the WordPress Foundation organized an experimental travel assistance program to remove financial barriers to attending the WordPress Community Summit at WordCamp San Francisco.
– The number of WordCamps outside the United States increased by 17% over the reported period ending with 47 events over the course of 2015.

For more information, follow the links below:
WordPress Foundation 2013 Financials
WordPress Foundation 2014 Financials
WordPress Foundation 2015 Financials

Looking forward to a great 2017

Happy New Year! We are excited for a great 2017. This year the WordPress Foundation will continue to pursue our educational mission in a number of ways.

First, we plan to contribute financially to other non-profit organizations; we’ll be making major (to us) grants to Hack the Hood, Internet Archive, and Black Girls Code. Second, we’ll be working with local WordPress communities to organize charity hackathons, helping non-profits benefit from open source tools. Finally, we plan to promote education about open source in economically disadvantaged nations.

If you’re interested in how you can support the WordPress Foundation in these efforts — maybe you want to organize a charity hackathon in your community or volunteer to teach a free class about open source software — please drop us a line and tell us how you’d like to help.

The other major news from 2016 is the creation of the new subsidiary, WordPress Community Support, PBC. This entity will continue to support WordCamps and WordPress user groups across the world hand in hand with the volunteers who dedicate their time.

For more news and details, keep an eye on this blog!

Introducing WordPress Community Support, A Public Benefit Subsidiary

Since January, we’ve been working on switching all operations related to official WordCamp and Meetup organizing to the new subsidiary of the WordPress Foundation, which is a public benefit corporation called WordPress Community Support, PBC (WPCS).

One of the main advantages to the change from the WordPress Foundation (a non-profit) to the WPCS (a public benefit corporation) is that the rules around sponsoring official WordPress events are much simpler. The WordPress Community team has updated sponsor rules to eliminate the barriers to value-add details on promotional items, while keeping rules that helped us form a trustworthy, community-focused sponsor program.

This also means that, by and large, the WordPress Foundation is no longer the financial entity for WordCamps and Meetups. Donations to the WordPress Foundation will still be accepted, and will support the Foundation’s charter to educate the public about WordPress and related open source software.

One of the few disadvantages to this switch is that WordCamps and meetup/user groups are no longer eligible for non-profit discounts. While this does present a problem for some groups, we think that the benefits we can provide outweigh the loss of the discounts for non-profit status.

WordPress Foundation currently holds a blanket insurance policy that covers all WordCamps in the US and Canada. WordPress Community Support, PBC is being added to that policy as a subsidiary, and we’ll be able to issue certificates with WPCS as the insured party, just like we did with the Foundation last year. All events using the WordPress Foundation name and info on their contract in 2016 will be covered by the blanket policy.

Large portions of this are excerpted from the post here, by Andrea Middleton.