Fostering innovation: The secrets to running a charity hack


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If you have a passion for tech for good and want to encourage innovation at your charity, running a hack day (aka hackathon) could be just what you need. In this presentation we cover:
• What is a hack and how can it benefit charities?
• What makes a good hack and how can it encourage innovation?
• How the Hack4Good movement is building solutions to humanity's biggest problems
• How to attract developers to your cause and build #apps4good

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  • Fostering innovation: The secrets to running a charity hack

    1. 1. Fostering Innovation – the secrets of running a charity hack IoF National Convention July 2014
    2. 2. What we will cover • What is a hack and how can it benefit charities? • What makes a good hack and how can it encourage innovation? • How the Geeklist #hack4good movement is building solutions to humanity's biggest problems • How to attract developers to your cause and build apps for good
    3. 3. Who are we? Jamie Parkins Product Manager at JustGiving @jghackers Dan Cunningham Director, Geeklist #hack4good @dancunningham
    4. 4. Who are we?Who’s been to a hack before?
    5. 5. Who thinks it’s this?
    6. 6. What does wikipedia say? A hackathon (aka hack day, hackfest or codefest) is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, collaborate intensively on a software project.
    7. 7. Pizza & Red Bull right?
    8. 8. It’s building amazing stuff!
    9. 9. Intense collaboration
    10. 10. Time bound
    11. 11. Responding to an open brief
    12. 12. Harnessing innovative technologies…
    13. 13. ….to develop solutions to real world problems
    14. 14. Typical Hack outcomes Tech understanding Poor ideas validated Cultural change A new solution! Hypothesis tested Energy & collaboration
    15. 15. So why are people increasingly turning to hacks? - To scratch an itch that they can’t currently resource - To tackle a timely/relevant issue head on and fast! - To test a hypothesis / hunch - A chance to collaborate with 3rd parties - The fun of experimentation - A potential low cost / low risk entry into a market - To learn (you learn loads!) - Instigate cultural change
    16. 16. And what’s the benefit for charities? - To pilot a new product or idea quickly and cheaply - Test market acceptance/readiness for an idea - Collaborate with sector colleagues or their supporters - Encourage new ways of giving/supporting their cause - Reduce admin/resource (a hack can = an internal process improvement!) - Increase awareness of your charity in new spaces / territories - Discover innovative ideas from other fields / sectors / outside perspectives - Engage positively with talented people outside of your four walls
    17. 17. Case study #1 – JustHacking - Ran our own 24 hour internal hack in April - Challenge was to simply come up with new ideas that would enhance our business (inside or out) - Cross team (finance, marketing, customer support, software dev etc) - 8 ideas, 3 of which have since been refined and soft launched - Bundles of energy - Read our storify at
    18. 18. Idea generation Rough ‘n ready! Celebrate success!
    19. 19. Case study #2 – Two charities already hacking Ran their first innovation hack in 2013 to test 3 project ideas “We know intelligent communications will raise Fundraising income. Our challenge was actually can we do this, do it quickly and do it well. We started the day with five fundamental barriers and a few labour intensive bit-part solutions. We left the room at the end of the day with one solution and two strategic, yet quick, deliverables.” @MeredithNiles Head of Fundraising Innovation at Marie Curie
    20. 20. Case study #3 – Brands that hack • Brands are starting to use hacks for R&D and staff retention ”Industries that you would never think are trying see how they can harvest the benefits of hackathons. It’s decentralizing their IT in favor of a greater collaboration between developers, marketers, and CEOs to create products or simply get ideas flowing outside the typically constrained box.” [Angelhack founder Sabeen Ali]
    21. 21. Brands that hack • • • pr-advice-for-brands-and-companies/ • Normally well organised, well drilled events • Can charities start to leverage your corporate partners? • Be wary of not ripping off attendees as Cadbury’s did. Chocolate < IP
    22. 22. “united globally we hack a better world”  A global movement - multi-city 48-hour hackathon events  Uniting leading minds – software engineers and NGOs collaborate intensively to build solutions to some of humanity's greatest challenges  Creating real-world impact – 1 in 5 projects continue  122 cities and growing
    23. 23. NGO partners
    24. 24. Whitecane  Winners of #hack4good 0.5, built in New Delhi, India (Feb 2014)  Whitecane is a mobile app to help people with visual impairments such as prosopagnosia recognise the faces and emotions of their loved ones.  Field testing with local charities
    25. 25. Siltinapp  1st place #hack4good 0.5 in Dublin  Sanitation Marketing - market- driven approach to satisfy consumer demand for sanitation products in developing countries  Web + Mobile + SMS app that enables people to obtain price, product and supplier information for sanitation products within their geographical area  Working with GOAL Ireland to set up field trials in Sierra Leone
    26. 26. How you can get involved  Define the challenge / problem statement – what is the problem technology might help solve? Who has the problem? What constraints are there?  Pitch your challenge live - either locally or globally  Collaborate at the hackathon – 48-hours – ideation, development, feedback, presentations  Commit to take it forwards – further development, piloting, field testing, funding
    27. 27. Image:
    28. 28. Image: Trocaire on Flickr
    29. 29. Image: John McColgan, US Forest Service
    30. 30. Image: Oxfam East Africa
    31. 31. Global hack against climate change 12-14 September 2014 - 3,000+ participants – 40+ cities
    32. 32. 15 global climate change challenges AWARENESS  Public awareness  Personal impact  Digital activism  Visualisation of impacts  Climate negotiations ADAPTATION  Resilient communities  Temperature rise  Extreme weather  Ecosystems and nature  NGO collaboration ACTION  Consumer behaviour  Energy production  Responsible finance  Sustainability  Reforestation
    33. 33. When disaster strikes - Philippines typhoon
    34. 34. Philippines Typhoon Appeal app • Outcome of 2 Hack4Good collaborators • A donation journey that enabled people to share their £5 gift to Facebook and encouraged friends to donate • Simple message, simple journey • Tech utilized: JustGiving APIs, Facebook Apps, Heroku (cloud hosting) • Built in 5 days, raised £30k • 54% of people who donated shared to their Facebook friends
    35. 35. Hack4Good Disaster Response Team You?
    36. 36. 10 Tips for joining a hack 1. What do you want to achieve? Learn new skill, test something, motivate your developer team, scratch an itch? 2. Plan in advance, hacks are often at weekends 3. Don’t overly plan in advance – remain flexible 4. Bring people with buckets of enthusiasm and good ideas 5. Be prepared to collaborate 6. Research your idea – understand user needs / be the user 7. Look at what tools and softwares you can leverage – don’t reinvent the wheel 8. Get your environments running in advance 9. Eat well, drink well 10. Go for it!
    37. 37. 10 Tips for running a hack 1. Give advanced notice (use forums, meetups etc) 2. Set a clear and open brief / challenge / problem statement 3. Embrace openness e.g. open data, open source, open innovation 4. Good venue, with kick ass wifi 5. Make it free (offset with sponsors) 6. Offer on day support 7. Be willing to promote and talk about the winners. Celebrate success v prizes 8. Be flexible (things change on the day) 9. Build alliances with partners and API providers 10. Create a dialogue channel / document the day (social, storify etc)
    38. 38. Upcoming Events
    39. 39. Useful resources Meet Ups - The Hackday Manifesto - 2014 – The Year Hackathons got serious - Everything You Ever Needed To Know About Hacks - about-running-a-successful-hackathon/
    40. 40. Interested? Want to join a hack? Want to run a hack? Want to join the Disaster Response Team? Sign up to our survey at
    41. 41. In summary There are many types of hackathons and they’re either competitive or communal. They can be aimed at start-ups, developing open source projects, they can be aimed at serving a specific community or brand or even to explore the possibilities of a new product. But one thing holds for all hackathons – they are about building things. [Fadie Hannona, MakersAcademy]
    42. 42. Thanks for listening… Slides: