Was one of your New Year's resolutions to donate your time and talent to worthy causes? Don't let those good intentions fade away—use the Web to find outlets for your abilities.
That's what the folks at Net Quotient Consulting and M2K did. Or rather, the two Austin, TX, companies helped a worthy cause make a better splash on the Web.
M2K, which specializes in Internet advertising, and Net Quotient, which does Internet consulting, donated their time and energies to redesign a Web site for SMARTgirls.org.
The intent of the nonprofit organization is to "foster math, science and technology skills that young women—intimidated by social, cultural and educational roadblocks—tend to abandon during their teen-aged years."
The grrls, er, girls wanted quizzes, fun facts, and animated graphics to dress up their Web site, along with simpler navigation. That's what M2K and Net Quotient delivered with their high-energy rebuild.
Are there similar opportunities in your community to put your technical skills to work? Probably. All you have to do is ask—or surf.
A good place to hang out
The Computer Clubhouse is a growing organization that offers urban kids age 10 to 18 a place to come and use computers and software—but not games. Kids sit down with PhotoShop, Visual C++, and other productivity programs and express their creativity while they're also paving their way to college and successful careers in technology.
Mentors are needed for Clubhouse chapters, which are sprinkled throughout Boston but also budding in a few cities around the globe. Helping kids create Web pages, search the Web, compose music, and make their own videos are among a mentor's duties (besides being a good role model).
The site also offers information on setting up new chapters and making donations to existing ones.
Author Robin Garr has written an article about The Computer Clubhouse for his Web site @Grassroots.org , which tells inspiring stories of local heroes who made a difference. His site just may help spur you on toward your own contributions.
- Looking to donate some time to a worthy cause in your area? Surf over to SERVEnet, fill out a questionnaire, and then punch in your ZIP code for a list of opportunities. In my area, quite a few of the postings were for volunteers at YMCA branches. I also found a pet-placement facility requesting help with its Web site.
- Another way to locate volunteer opportunities in your back yard is to visit VolunteerMatch . Its initial survey is a little more flexible than SERVEnet's, allowing you to specify with more detail the times you'll be available (One-time-only, or ongoing? Just this week, or up to two months?), volunteer categories (youth, homeless, seniors, animals, computers/technology, etc.), and how far you're willing to travel. I opted for every volunteer opportunity within 10 miles just to see what would present itself. Fifteen opportunities appeared, which included youth mentoring and e-text editing for the blind. VolunteerMatch also lists "virtual" volunteer opportunities, allowing you to do good deeds using your computer without ever leaving home. If you can design a Web page, compose grant proposals, program a database, write gripping copy, or do legal research, hundreds of organizations are out there waiting for your help.
- WebCharity.com is a little like eBay in that you list miscellaneous items for auction and then ship them to the highest bidder. The difference is that you never receive payment for doing so. Instead, the buyer sends payment to WebCharity, which forwards it to the charity of your choice. More than 800 nonprofit organizations are available to choose from, ranging from local animal rescue shelters to children's aid to international relief. Here's a way to get rid of your doorstop computer systems and feel good about it.
And that’s what I’ve seen worth citing.