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AdoptAGeek.org - helping geeks serve the local community

FROM: Patrick Lewin

What NEED does this meet?
This idea came about as I am a programmer/web designer and have quite a few friends working in the charity sector.

I noticed that although there are places where charities can get computer equipment 2nd hand (normally for free), there aren\'t any obvious ways to get cheap / free technical help on how to use the things to do stuff!

So the website would link computer experts (many of whom tend to be genorous with giving their time and expertise if only they knew how) with charity and other nonprofit enterprises in their local area.

The website itself would be envisaged as a non-profit \"date matching\" type service and would include such spurious but fun features such as \"Geek of the Week\", focussing in on one person and what they\'ve managed to achieve. It would also have a forums area to allow geeks to share experiences and provide tech.

What is the APPROACH?
I\'m not aware of such a website resource, or at least not one that has been successfully \"marketed\". So, if done right it would be a unique resource.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
As stated in the NEED: section above, I have worked with numerous charities and have seen the need for a accessible, computer knowledgable people in the cash-strapped charity sector. Needless to say, schools and community centres could benefit too.

What is the COMPETITION?
As mentioned above, I\'m not aware of a similar service or at least one that has caught on.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
It could be handled by one website designer as a full-time project for about three-six months, ideally with input from a graphic designer to help with look\'n\'feel. After that, the ongoing maintenance cost would only be subject to bandwidth charges (i.e. how many people are using the site).

The website could be released in embryonic form much earlier than the release date of course.

November 1, 2003 in Connecting People, Giving stuff away, Helping Your Community, Matching System, NGO Tools | Permalink

Comments

I agree that there's plenty of willing people out there. Just look at the knowledge sharing within the computer community on various chatboards.

Posted by: Al Green at Nov 1, 2003 10:12:33 AM

Two types of ideas keep being posted, which maybe could be combined to make
both work.
The first idea is of online payments, which has the problem of
how anyone gets the funny money so they can spend it, and how anyone accepting
it in payment can expect to purchase goods or services with a real world value.
The second idea is that we need a way of matching the skills of volunteers
with the needs of charities. Maybe volunteers and sponsors could donate funny
money to the organisation of their choice, and display a sign that they accept
funny money. The charities would use the funny money to buy the services they
need whether that is an unskilled teenager for addressing envelopes, or an
accountant to certify their books. The funny money would be spent at businesses
which accept it to cancel the debt which they have made by donating, or know
that members of staff or their lawyers or plumber will accept it. In this
way volunteers can donate the thing which they do best and charities can
receive the best at what they need.

Posted by: Ian at Nov 1, 2003 9:17:48 PM

There is a site which does most of this - www.it4communities.org.uk, but you're
right that marketing is a huge issue. We're always open to ideas as to how we
can recruit more volunteers and charities but it will always be a slow and
(somewhat) painful process.

One thing you missed out in your spec is project tracking and keeping projects
on the go. Volunteering is great but sometimes projects need a nudge and there
will always be communications issues when 'geek' meets 'good cause'.

Regarding a budget, trust me, these things DON'T run on fresh air. I've seen
something similar to what you suggested which was run without proper project
management and it was an abject failure.

Simon Davey
National Director
IT4Communities
simon@it4communities.org.uk

Posted by: Simon Davey at Nov 4, 2003 10:06:35 AM

One of our favourite sayings around here - okay, it's one of my favourite sayings, and everyone else has to put up with it - is "It's a lexicon issue." Meaning that in my experience, when IT projects fail, 85% of the time it's because the 'geeks' are speaking a different language than the 'organizers', and neither side feels that they should be the one which has to 'stoop' to learning the other's language. The fact that there tend to be 'sides', with computer-types in one camp and non-computer-types in another, is testament to the kind of elitism that causes these problems in the first place: the computer geeks think they are superior because they are the only ones who can do the magic voodoo behind, say, a website; while the 'organizers' think they're superior because they're the ones who hunt and kill the money to pay the magic voodoo people. And as long as these notions of superiority persist, so do the lexicon issues. So I kind of like the idea of 'geeks' getting together with 'non-geeks' to do something that's for the greater good, simply because it might provide an environment where the superiority issues - and therefore the lexicon issues - could get resolved, or at least minimized. This helps everyone involved.

Sarah

Posted by: Sarah at Nov 9, 2003 9:24:31 AM

have you seen www.paratechnics.org.uk? It runs along the same principles you suggested and matches up techys with organisations in the Brighton (UK) area.

Posted by: Mat at May 12, 2004 12:42:47 PM