I’ve heard that learning something new is a great way to keep one’s brain sharp. If that is true, my brain is in great shape this week, because last weekend, I did something I never could have imagined—I helped build a new website for the nonprofit where I work.
I am actually fairly comfortable with computers because I believe that any mistakes I might make can be undone by someone who understands the technology. With this foundational belief, I can be a happy clicker.
When I wanted to start a blog, I chose a simple template and just started writing and posting.
But a website? That seems so much more complicated.
The website at my work was outdated and difficult to navigate. People frequently complained to me about it. But new websites can be very expensive.
Then I heard about Give Camp—a national organization that brings together IT professionals and nonprofits to improve the nonprofits’ technology. Our local Give Camp is in Ann Arbor.
I applied for a new website, and we were one of four nonprofits selected.
Give Camp is based on a sweat-equity model where the nonprofit commits to be present and be part of the process. The goal is that by participating in the building process, the nonprofit personnel will become adept at updating the website so it can stay current.
We gathered at Washtenaw County Community college on Friday afternoon—about 35 people in all—and I met The Lake House team: Brian (aka “Korz”) was our team leader and a software developer; Joel, Jan and the other Brian were our coders; and Sarah was our marketing expert.
I explained our needs—nothing elaborate, just an easy-to-navigate website.
On Friday night, we decided on a WordPress template, which Give Camp purchased for us. Then we went to work. The team imported pages from our old website on Friday night, and all day Saturday, we worked on updating content and improving layout. The coders created forms and links, and the marketing person made it all beautiful.
At a WordPress tutorial on Saturday afternoon, I learned about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and new terms like entrepreninja and solopreneur. Throughout the weekend, we used an on-line bulletin board system, which helped us keep track of what needed to be done and what had been completed.
It was three days of learning new terms and processes and the opportunity to practice what I was learning.
By Sunday at 2:00 p.m., our new website went live; check it out at www.milakehouse.org.
I am grateful to Ann Arbor Give Camp, to our team and also to the sponsors of this event.
At the closing ceremony, the nonprofit representatives expressed our gratitude to our teams, and Jay, the Give Camp leader, thanked the nonprofits for the work we do every day.
Throughout my nonprofit career, I have been blessed by opportunities to collaborate with the for-profit world. Give Camp is a wonderful example of how we can work together for good.