Oh, this is a fun one. I’ve spent much of my adult life working with non-profits. Once as a staff-member but usually as a volunteer.
I’ve got two fun stories, both from awhile ago.
Story one, a church in Memphis had recently bought a building that was far too big for it’s needs so was soliciting community projects to use parts of the building. We had a group of people interested in digital media. This was 2002ish when iMovie and Final Cut were new on the scene. As it happened the church had a sort of theater space in the basement and we applied to use that. They gave it to us. For 2 years we had a collaborative workshop based on teaching and learning video editing with iMovie and FCP. We worked with kids, adult’s community groups, etc. It was a blast. Movies were made, scripts written and even two little movie festivals.
Another story, during the same time period I worked for the Memphis Literacy Council. I was hired just to do general office stuff. I’d previously been a volunteer in the computer lab and helped out in there too. Our proprietary database for tracking student progress and volunteer pairings was showing it’s age and the volunteer that had created it was no longer available. This was a fairly large system with many I hundreds of students and many hundreds of volunteers that met weekly one-on-one and also in classes. A new volunteer came along but after 5 months of attempting to create a new system using Microsoft Access he hit a wall and could not complete it. I’d been playing with FileMaker for a couple years, just as a hobby. I offered to try it with the understanding that I was something of a newbie doing my best but learning as I went. It was a bit daunting but in a month I had a basic working system. In two months it was ready for a trial run. At about three months I had transferred all the data over. I spent the next 2 years improving it and adding in new features. It far surpassed anything I’d initially thought I’d do. I left in 2004 but had heard around 2008 that they were still using it! Oh, an added detail, when I began working there it was Windows only. Partly as a result of setting up the FileMaker database which happened around the time that we were in need of 2 new computers, well, we ended up with two new G3 iMacs. Of course FMP runs on Windows too but I made the case for why having a couple Macs in the office would be beneficial and the director agreed.
Truth is, I love this stuff. The reason I started spending more time with computers was so that I could build websites for community groups I was working with… back around 1998. It ended up being a life-changing experience that led me to learning Quark and InDesign for publishing community newspapers. Keynote for presentations. So many things. Using Macs for community not-profits literally became the basis of my life and I’ve loved every minute of it.
Sorry, that’s probably way, way way more detail than anyone wanted. But when we tap into passions sometimes our fingers just go.