Someone asked an interesting question at a charity-focused hackathon I was at last year - along the lines of "This is the third year we've held this event to help Charities, why aren't more of them here with projects?". From what I've seen of (medium to large) charities, the answer would be along the lines of "the technology problems that charities have to deal with can't easily be tackled by a hackathon". Technology problems in charities tend to be things like:
Last weekend was my fourth Charity Hackathon of the year, CharityHack 2012. The CharityHack series started in 2009 and is sponsored by PayPal, JustGiving, MissionFish (aka PayPal Giving Fund) and PlayMob.Whereas some of the hackathons I've been to this year were actually organised by charities, CharityHack had more a feel of "people who work in the private sector doing a hack for charities". Not that there weren't charity people there, but the general make-up of the crowd was different.
I've lived in Lambeth for 11 of the last 15 years, but I've never spent that much time thinking about Lambeth Council. I appreciated it when they started collecting cardboard for recycling. I was vaguely impressed when I could pay my council tax online rather than by post. I enjoyed Myatts Fields and Brockwell Park. And I was wary of the councillor pamphlets, which only ever seemed to arrive when they needed me to vote. I understood the benefits of local government, but the reality of trying to engage with it meant reading highly partisan election leaflets that highlighted the negatives and blamed the other parties for them. So, I was not particularly engaged.
Hackathons are all the rage at the moment, and are great events for lots of reasons. I'm aiming to go to hackathons that have charitable objectives, and hence I was excited to see that a bunch of organisations (the Goverment Digital Service, Go On UK, Westminster City Council, The Connection at St Martins, SHP and Homeless Link) had worked together to organise a Homeless Hack Day on 16th June 2012.