In 2020, unfazed by the COVID-19 pandemic, community organizers rallied together and worked hard to give a WordPress-powered web presence for charities through online charity hackathons. Our passionate and resilient community members are pulling out all stops this year to continue the good work. We already have two applications for do_action events in the queue, with more in the pipeline! This post aims to encourage all our zealous organizers with tips on how best to organize successful online do_action charity hackathons.
- Recruit a core team and prepare an event plan
Enlist a team of 5-10 members to wrangle the event. Much like a WordCamp, organizers need to plan do_action events down to the last detail. Make sure you have a plan for the entire event lifecycle – including selecting nonprofits, finding volunteers, finding sponsors, task management, and execution. For inspiration, check out how the do_action Japan team came up with a plan for the event beforehand! Having a solid communication strategy and setting deadlines is equally important. Finding answers to questions like: “When do volunteer teams meet?”, “How often should there be check-ins?”, “How do we track tasks?”, “How do we measure progress?” and “ What deadlines do we need to meet?” for instance, will help in devising a strategy.
- Finding non-profits and volunteers
Finding eligible non-profits for your event could be a challenge. When your event publishes the call for non-profits, share it widely on social media. Since this is a charitable event, we have noticed that getting PR from local news media outlets is a lot easier. You might also want to reach out to Non-profit organizations and offer assistance proactively. You can follow the same approach for volunteer recruitment too.
- Fix your collaboration tools and communication strategy
Since this will be an online event, you will need the right collaboration tools to make the event successful. Please note: A doaction.org G Suite/Google Workspace account will be provided to all do_action event organizers in 2021 and beyond! Feel free to use that account for all your needs. Check out the handbook page for more information. Here are some tools that you can use for your event:
- doaction.org website (call for nonprofits & hackathon participants)
- Slack (overall event prep, communication on the event days) – A free plan will be sufficient.
- Zoom (event organizer & inter-team meetings, opening/closing remarks) – WordPress Community zoom accounts can be used.
- Google Workspace tools (provided to all 2021 organizers in the firstname.lastname@example.org format) – Gmail (inquiries & sponsor communication), Google Forms (call for organizers & sponsors, post-event survey), Google Sheets (task & data management), Google Docs (collaborative editing of documents, Google Drive (for storage needs), and Google Slides (opening/closing remarks presentation)
- WordPress.com P2 – for task management
- Trello – for task management.
- Figma (design)
- Finding sponsors
For online do_action events, organizers need not worry about venue or catering expenses. Hence, sponsorship benefits for these events can be passed along directly to non-profits. Most WordPress companies are passionate about supporting non-profits, and providing product/service licenses is a cost-effective way for them to support the community. Consider reaching out to specific companies as per your needs. Sponsorship benefits that do_action events in 2020 had availed include:
- Free domain and web hosting for non-profits
- Sponsored premium plugins and themes (Only 100% GPL Compliant themes and plugins are allowed)
- Sponsored website services (backups, caching, security, optimization, etc.)
- Find a way to offer post-event support for non-profit websites
Make sure that once the event is over, each non-profit is trained on how to use and update the site. Perhaps a few volunteers could provide post-event support for a short while (while ensuring that the right expectations are set on both sides). Offering post-event support as a sponsorship benefit could also be a solution to that problem.
Does all of this sound exciting? Would you like to support your local community by organizing a do_action event? Send in your application right away! You can read more about do_action in the event handbook. Thank you for all that you do to support the global community through WordPress.