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Grand Rapids GiveCamp donates time and expertise to help West Michigan nonprofits step up their game

Funds for nonprofits are in a slump, staff and resources are stretched thin, and there is little time -- let alone money -- to redesign websites, develop databases, or beef up a social media presence, all of which are critical to a nonprofit's success.

So, what's a nonprofit to do?

Enter Grand Rapids GiveCamp. One of about 45 GiveCamps nationwide, GR GiveCamp is a weekend-long event that brings technology professionals -- such as designers, developers, database administrators, marketers, and web strategists -- together with nonprofit organizations to launch their efforts to the next level. Now in its fourth year, the event is comprised of approximately 20 nonprofit organizations and 150 technical professionals. This year, the event takes place November 8-10 at The Factory, 38 West Fulton, Suite 400. West Michigan nonprofits that wish to participate have until October 1 to apply.

Here's how it works: GR GiveCamp matches each nonprofit to the local technology professional that best meets the organization's needs; over the course of the event, nonprofits receive free technology services, such as new websites, databases, e-newsletter programs, and social media campaigns.

"The average annual value to the nonprofit community of the work completed at GiveCamp is $250,000 in donated technology services and resources," says Ross Hunter, president of GR GiveCamp. "With the 2013 event, we expect to surpass $1 million in total donated services since we began holding GiveCamp in Grand Rapids."

Suffice it to say that the customers are satisfied. The Land Conservancy of West Michigan, which participated in last year's event, ended up with a "professional, dynamic, and user-friendly" website, says Keri Amlotte, communications coordinator at the Land Conservancy. "The new site has improved our efforts in donor and volunteer relations and community engagement," she says.

The American Red Cross of West Michigan also participated in the 2012 GiveCamp and received a "robust, flexible, and mobile inventory database, specifically tailored to the Red Cross's needs, [which] will provide huge time and cost savings," says Chip Kragt, the organization's regional emergency services director. "The new database will be used and tested by the West Michigan Region of the American Red Cross before being implemented in additional parts of the country," Kragt says.

Since the idea's inception in 2007, GiveCamp programs around the country have provided benefits to hundreds of charities, worth millions of dollars of developer and designer time in services.

Get involved:
- Learn more about GR GiveCamp.
- Volunteer your time and expertise.
- Apply to GR GiveCamp.
- Follow them on Facebook.
- Follow them on Twitter.

Sources: Ross Hunter, president of GR GiveCamp; Keri Amlotte, communications coordinator at the Land Conservancy; Chip Kragt, regional emergency services director at American Red Cross of West Michigan

Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Adam Bird, Rapid Growth Media
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