The event gathers computer experts from across Iowa and leaders of ten Iowa non-profit groups. Alex Karei, vice president of DSM Hack, says the non-profits all need help, from basic websites to ways to process information online instead of using old-fashioned paper and pen.
Karei says, “We invite them to apply with these challenges they have and then we review the applications and we actually get, this year, it’s about 100 technology volunteers to come give up their weekend or 48 hours to produce those for them.”
The nonprofits range from those dedicated to helping people who are less fortunate to others that work toward preserving Iowa’s landscape. “We always get such a fun variety of different types of non-profits and that’s what we like,” Karei says. “When those technology volunteers come to the event, we really want them to be able to identify with one that speaks to them so they can get really passionate about the project they’re working on.”
This is the sixth annual Des Moines Charity Hack and Karei says the number of participants has grown every year, now finally topping 100 volunteers. Most, she says, work in the corporate world. “Maybe their projects from day-to-day are a little less exciting but this is something where they can come in and get more creative,” Karei says. “They say, ‘This gets me out of my box, it gets me out of what I’m working on every day and it gives me a chance to really revive myself,’ and they’ll go back to work with a renewed vigor.”
The work of these 100 volunteers over 48 hours has a broad reach, Karei says, that will continue expanding. “They’re helping to create a product or they’re helping create a platform or something that really makes a large impact throughout Iowa,” Karei says. “Instead of being an impact that ends at that 48 hours, it just exponentially grows, which is a really special part about the hack.”
The event will be held today through Saturday at the Des Moines Social Club. Since the first event in 2014, the hackathons have provided more than $829,000 in services for more than 50 non-profits.