How we went paperless with Free Code Camp

PictureThe final product! Paperless is better.

We are always looking for ways to work smarter not harder at Timeraiser.  This is how we manage nationwide programming from our five person Toronto HQ.  Timeraiser event logistics often pose the greatest challenge.  It is not enough to simply get people through the door, but we also need to understand the impact of the connections made between the young professionals who attend and the nonprofits looking for talented new volunteers.

Whenever possible, we use cloud tools for events (Eventbrite, Salesforce, Google Drive, etc), but to understand these interactions, we needed to build a tool that would help us capture the unique quality of our events, while still connecting to our existing cloud-based systems and workflows.  Having custom code developed can be very pricy, and often out of reach for nonprofits.
Enter Free Code Camp!!

Free Code Camp is an awesome organization based out of the US that provides what they call “pro bono code” for nonprofits who need a custom solution to achieve their mission.  A creative model, they provide code training opportunities to developers who want to build their portfolios and get experience working with clients.  Instead of training on demos or theoretical projects, those developers are matched to nonprofits who need code.

We were very lucky to have our application to rebuild our event connection process, and had the pleasure to work with two very talented developers, Jonathan Lucas and David Alvarado, who went above and beyond to create a web-based app for us.

PictureThe old (paper) way.

For the past 12 years, we have asked our attendees to complete paper ballots telling us which nonprofits caught their interest.  In turn, we send the attendee’s email addresses to representatives at the nonprofits they chose.  While effective this process had drawbacks.

The post-event work was time consuming, and did not leave us with an electronic record of the connections that were made in the room.  We needed something that would allow us to quickly get the information to our nonprofits so that they can ride the momentum of their face to face connections and get their new volunteers started.  And, or course, we wanted to go paperless!

In order to achieve all these improvements, we asked Free Code Camp to develop a web app that was easy to access for our users (via a not a downloaded app).  Users can tell us what orgs interest them, and the app immediately creates them as a contact in our Salesforce database and records their nonprofit choices.  No post-event data entry.  Within Salesforce we created a one-click process to allows us to verify and send those names to all of our participating nonprofits in under 10 minutes per city.  What used to be a full day job can be done at the airport on our way back to HQ.  We can focus on what matters while our nonprofits get their connections quickly.

In addition to time saved, the tool was also easy for users to access at laptop stations or on their smartphones.  They didn’t need to worry about remembering to submit their paper ballots.

I would highly recommend that nonprofits apply to Free Code Camp with their custom solution needs. Young, aspiring developers: this is also a chance for you to hone your skills and do good at the same time!