48in48 Boston, New England Give Camp

Engaging in Digital

I was excited to be invited to give a quick kickoff talk at 48in48 Boston last week. 48in48 is a series of events (Atlanta, New York, London, Boston and others) in which volunteers build 48 sites for 48 non-profits in 48 hours.

If you’re in the Boston area and missed out on 48in48 but like the concept, you should also check out New England GiveCamp, which is coming up May 18-20, 2018, at BlueMetal in Watertown.

The two events, though sharing a focus on bringing together smart digital professionals (developers, designers, PMs, strategists) with non-profit organizations in need of support, are otherwise very different.

48in48 projects are built on top of a very controlled WordPress-based framework, with a preselected set of plugins and base themes. Most of the effort on the projects is focused on content production and configuration plus styling – very little actual back-end or even theme level development happens. This enables a high volume of sites to be produced, but might leave developers who want to get their hands dirty feeling less productive. 48in48 also puts the nonprofits through some significant pre-work before the event, gathering content and brand assets and documenting the nonprofit mission clearly – getting basically everything the team will need to build the site. Having done all the work upfront, the non-profits themselves don’t (generally) attend – the digital professionals have what they need to build the sites.

New England GiveCamp, on the other hand, isn’t just focused on WordPress, though a majority of the sites built in the years I volunteered were WordPress sites. GiveCamp projects often include more significant custom development of themes and plugins, as well as (in some cases) migrations across platforms. Unlike 48in48, GiveCamp actually requires a representative from the non-profit be available as part of the camp and encourages their attendance. There’s definitely more flexibility for the developer, though I can’t help but wonder if the more locked-down approach of 48in48 works better for non-profits who don’t have the technical infrastructure or management to consistently own and take care of self-hosted site and would benefit from a more managed, multisite, restricted option.