By Lauryn Rosinski – Marketing and PR account coordinator
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in Cleveland GiveCamp. And honestly, prior to volunteering at this event, I did not know what to expect.
I heard my coworkers discuss past Cleveland GiveCamp weekends. I watched as my supervisor and director of PR and marketing services, Jeanine Black, and director of fundraising consulting, Sara Lundenberger, looked up website themes and designs. I even did external research myself to find out more about the GiveCamp mission.
Still, when someone tells you that you are going to spend a weekend on a boat, typing and staring at a computer screen until your fingers and eyes are sore, you are definitely filled with curiosity and anticipation.
Now, after officially experiencing GiveCamp, I can say that I loved being a part of this event – and I learned a lot from it, too.
- The GiveCamp mission is important for nonprofits of all shapes, sizes and visions.
For those of you that do not know, the Cleveland GiveCamp weekend event is a part of the GiveCamp national initiative, which was thought up by a Microsoft executive in 2007. The mission of Cleveland GiveCamp is to “pair creative and technology talent with nonprofits in need.” Nonprofits apply to participate in GiveCamp and typically 20 are chosen for the Cleveland event each year.
And the all-volunteer members of the Cleveland GiveCamp “steering committee” execute this mission by arranging a weekend where techies, coders, designers, managers and copywriters come together to develop websites for nonprofits in need. They even feed all of us – more than 200 of us – for an entire weekend.
During this weekend, I was sent to work with Bounce Innovation Hub, an open innovation hub that serves as an accelerator, incubator, makerspace and home for technology companies, startups, artists and more. This may not be what you imagine a typical nonprofit to be – but, as I walked around the boat and watched volunteers hard at work, I realized that there is no such thing as a “typical nonprofit.”
So many diverse nonprofits participated this weekend, including veterans’ groups, homeless shelters, art centers, mental health organizations and more. Although they were all different, each had the same goal in mind – to share their mission and help others.
This is why Cleveland GiveCamp is important.
Every nonprofit has a story, and in this digital age, some of the best tools to tell that story are appealing and functional websites. And GiveCamp makes it possible for any type of nonprofit, especially those without the financial resources to do so, to make such websites.
- Collaboration is key.
I have worked with Bounce Innovation Hub’s management team in the past as a marketer and social media specialist. One point that members of this team constantly want to convey to its audience is that Bounce encourages open collaboration – and companies that work together are more successful.
I truly saw the importance of collaboration during Cleveland GiveCamp. Each volunteer brought their own sets of strengths – and used them to help their fellow teammates grow and learn.
For Cleveland GiveCamp, I volunteered as a copywriter. I am a pretty decent writer and I can also type relatively quickly – however, I cannot code or work with internet technology to save my life. Thankfully, I had some wonderful people on my team who could take on the work that I did not feel comfortable with.
Collaboration, however, is not just about one party picking up the slack. It is about multiple parties helping one another and pushing each other to be better. This weekend, the coders and techies on my team did not just let me give up on projects I found too difficult. They took the time to train me and explain to me the intricacies of web design. I may not be an expert at WordPress, by any means – however, thanks to my team, I can hold my own on this platform.
Working with others allows all types of professionals to deliver better products and results – and that practice is what Cleveland GiveCamp is all about.
- We can all contribute our unique talents to help nonprofits and our communities.
During a study conducted in Australia on volunteerism, it was found that more people would volunteer if they could perform tasks that would appeal to them. This, of course, makes sense – people want to do what they love and feel rewarded for it.
After participating in Cleveland GiveCamp and learning more about nonprofits in Northeast Ohio, I became aware of the thousands of volunteer opportunities in our area. This discovery led to this realization: we really all can do what we are passionate about – and help others in the process.
For those who love working with their hands, donate your time to help build a house, sew blankets for homeless shelters or design murals to beautify your city. For those who feel a spark of excitement when helping children in need, volunteer your time as a tutor or mentor in your local school district.
And, for those of you who love creating websites, join Cleveland GiveCamp next year. (Mark your calendars: the next Cleveland GiveCamp will take place July 19-21, 2019.)
Although Cleveland GiveCamp only lasts a few days, I will say that I will remember being a part of this experience for many years to come. I will look back fondly on the many hours spent working with kind, intelligent and funny people. I will be proud of the impacts, no matter how big or small, we had on all the participating nonprofit partners.
And I will carry the lessons that I learned with me, as both a professional and an individual.