Capital One’s Hackathon gave new life to Toronto charities

As we mentioned last month, we had our eye on a brand new movement from Capital One Canada that is known as The Gift the Code Hackathon.

From October 21-23, 141 developers, designers and UI/UX artists took part in Capital One Canada’s first-ever “Gift the Code” hackathon. Over the course of 40 hours of coding, 24 teams developed open-source apps, chat bots, redesigned online donation forms, overhauled website designs and more to help six Toronto-based charities deal with the many technological challenges they face as small, not for profit organizations.

The charities that were involved needed help with tech, IT, or social media/online issues taken care of by someone in the know, and that is exactly what happened. Here are some examples of the incredible work done by the Hackathon:

Blake Boultbee, a community-based outreach service providing counselling, therapy and life skills training to high-risk youth and families in low-income areas of east Toronto received a full redesign of its website and chat bot capabilities for its new social media pages.

Holland Bloorview, Canada’s largest children’s rehabilitation hospital focused on improving the lives of kids with disabilities had teams digitize its patient feedback and research process, making it easier for children with disabilities to provide feedback on their care to doctors and

Prosper Canada, a charity dedicated to expanding economic opportunity for Canadians living in poverty through program and policy innovation, received help to develop a method to of helping users track their expenditures by distributing visualized spending data to them through an online messenger.

Second Harvest, the largest food rescue program in Canada received help to digitize its annual raffle competitions to aid with donor communications and customer relationship management processes.

Toronto Pflag, a fully volunteer-run, charitable organization that provides support, education and advocacy for families, friends and allies of LGBTQ individuals had the Hackathon develop an online hub for volunteers, enabling the organization to pull analytics on their support and organize volunteers into an anonymous chat system for new families looking for information and support on LGBTQ issues.

Women’s Habitat, an organization that provides shelter and support services to women and their
children who are experiencing or at risk of experiencing physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, financial and/or spiritual violence had help to develop chat systems with a hidden digital footprint that allow women in crisis to connect with volunteers and find aid, while helping to reduce the fear of being discovered by their abuser.

“This event represented collaborative, creative problem-solving at its best. It was incredible to see how quickly participants – many of whom were strangers on Friday – could form teams and build innovative digital solutions in a single weekend,” said Nathalie Clark, Managing Vice President of Capital One Canada. “Some of the tools and solutions can be put to use immediately, solving several long-standing needs at Toronto non-profits, and we’re exploring how we can help expand on others so that they can put all of the good work to use in the future.”

All 24 of the solutions created during Gift the Code are available on public code repositories to allow for further development, and will be made available at the Capital One Hackathon Gifthub account.

“Over the 40 hours, I had the opportunity to interact with participants, answer questions along the way and ultimately see a finished product come to life. The impact these solutions will have on our organization are huge, and drives home that it’s not always about the money but about thinking outside the box to achieve a common goal.” Says Lina Almanzan, Resource Systems Manager, Women’s Habitat.

As we suspected, Capital One Canada’s Hackathon was a huge success.

Helping six amazing charities to work out problems that have been holding them back from achieving their full potential, and that’s just what we like to see.

Maybe next time we can get in the action and learn a little more so we too can pay it forward.

This post was sponsored by Capital One Canada. Photo credit: Ryan Emberley.


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