Changemakers 2022: Removing Operational Roadblocks for Good

February 7, 2023
January 9, 2023
min read
Changemakers 2022: Removing Operational Roadblocks for Good

We’ve just completed our third annual Changemakers event, where we pair nonprofits with one or more business operations experts for a week-long hackathon-style collaboration. They work together to improve the nonprofit’s operational efficiency and address any roadblocks holding them back—the sorts of technology gaps, inefficiencies, and operational limitations that too often accompany nonprofits’ lack of resources. At the end of the week, a winner is declared from among the participating organizations, and they receive $5,000.

Through Changemakers, we’ve matched more than 50 makers with over 35 nonprofits looking to solve their operational challenges. Changemakers has saved these organizations over 20,000 hours of manual work and donated $15,000 to their causes.

For Changemakers 2022, our participation grew to 10 nonprofit organizations and 19 makers—some new to Changemakers, and some alumni. (This dovetails with the growth of our community, AdaptivOps, which grew by 200 members this year!)

This year’s group of makers was also our most experienced, with titles including Chief of Staff; Director of Infrastructure; Sr. Architect, GTM Technology; and Head of Operations.

Here’s a quick list of what the contenders and their ops partners accomplished at Changemakers 2022:

The contenders

Daniel Memorial: Providing quality services for youth and families

  • Problem: A registration form for a 500-person conference kept failing at the critical payment step. They need a new, reliable registration solution.
  • Solution: They opted to stay with the same platform but fixed the payment issue on the original and implemented a new, cleaner, less clunky form.
  • Benefit: It’s now easier to take payments, there’s a better UX, and there are no additional tools or costs for the team to manage

Ok Mentor: What if all women passed down their knowledge to future generations?

  • Problem: After switching providers for its online mentor/mentee matching service, Ok Mentor needed to migrate 230 users to the new platform.
  • Solution: They mapped out a migration solution and created an automated email opt-in with a single click for users to consent or decline.
  • Benefit: They were able to begin building a proof of concept and a timeline around the new platform purchase.

L -aPs, Inc. (Learning, Living, & Loving after/along with Programs): To be seen, understood, and valued without needing to change yourself

  • Problem: With multiple business practices (matching subject matter experts to clients, taking donations, tracking, etc.), they needed to make their otherwise manual workflows faster and more efficient.
  • Solution: They created a workflow to automate and collect data for the website to guide those who patronize it to the organization’s available services.
  • Benefit: They added workflow automation, streamlined the website’s homepage, and improved peer matching so the organization can better contact, support, accept donations, and continue to provide more supportive one-on-one time with people in need.

Deaf Refugee Advocacy: Provide direct services; promote advocacy and full language access; and offer outreach services for deaf refugees, asylum-seekers, immigrants, and those from U.S. territories

  • Problem: They needed a CRM prototype to track staff and volunteer time as well as case work details.
  • Solution: They needed to rapidly prototype, propose and validate a new architecture, develop and configure the new solution, demo it, and train users.
  • Benefit: They aimed for a scalable solution for the next two to three years that saves costs thanks to minimal tech architecture.

Children Have Options In Choosing Experiences (C.H.O.I.C.E.): Provide the needed services that will allow youth and adolescents to reach their maximum potential via a positive, healthy lifestyle.  

  • Problem: The process to refer and register participants is outdated and not streamlined and may lead to errors or lack of data collected. Further, this process is time-sensitive but requires a lot of manual time.
  • Solution: They needed to prototype a registration form that will do automatically pull data from SurveyMonkey, send an email to parents that prompts them to complete additional information, and create a dashboard to view the status of all registrations.
  • Benefit: This will increase service time, eliminate paper usage, assist with data collection, and increase data accuracy.

In4All: Mobilize the community to bring local businesses and schools together to provide real world, hands-on learning experiences that expand opportunities for students who are historically underserved to engage in their education and aspire to careers in fields they might not otherwise consider possible.

  • Problem: Their existing Airtable workspace needs to morph into a true platform—and they might need to develop internal staff resources as a result.
  • Solution: They needed to create an automation audit spreadsheet, streamline event-based automation, create a form for external updates to specific fields in company CRM, and create an “executive dashboard” for the Board of Directors.
  • Benefit: They completed each of the above tasks.

Boys & Girls Club of Boston: Ensure that youth are exposed to, and have the opportunity to engage in, a wide variety of arts-based activities, from music and dance to visual arts and creative writing

  • Problem: The BGCB’s makerspace room is too open and overwhelming, and most activities have a steep learning curve that requires heavy hands-on staff instruction in an already understaffed space. The learning model and lack of resources are impeding staff ability to maintain a high level of programming, communication, and organization.
  • Solution: They needed to create an experience flow (aka an “adventure map”) for students, along with a Jotform to guide them through the room experience and a website for parent and staff resources.
  • Benefit: They got the Jotform site. It features activity options, instructions, and maps for youth, and it links to parent and staff resources on the Google Site. For parents, the system includes an event calendar, program photos, and staff information. For staff, it includes activity ideas and instructions, as well as inventory management. The system is templatized and thus eminently scalable.

Looking ahead

Clearly, as a group, Changemakers covered a tremendous amount of ground at this year’s hackathon! The problems our participants arrived with (and the solutions they departed with) demonstrate both how specific many operational roadblocks can be and also how skills-based volunteering can make a huge positive impact on organizations that are doing good in the world.

For us at Tonkean, it’s further evidence that the thing we work on every day—helping organizations of all types and sizes solve problems and do better, more efficient, more meaningful work—is necessary and valuable. Coming off a week where we got to see that impact up close gives us a boost of energy for the coming year and everything Tonkean will create.

If you want to catch up with Changemakers 2022, sign up for our upcoming webinar on January 25, 2023—Changemakers Showcase: Leveraging No-Code to Aid Underprivileged Youth—where the winning team will join us to discuss how they leveraged no-code to build a platform that allows students and teachers to interact with and contribute to their data.

And if you want to learn more about either volunteering your skills or including your organization in Changemakers 2023, join the AdaptivOps community!

Huge thanks to the nonprofits, volunteers, and makers who participated in this event. We eagerly look forward to working with you all again next year!

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