by Leah Lomotey-Nakon

Nonprofit leaders, especially those helping Nashville adjust to its rapid growth over the past six years, are familiar with the need to roll up their sleeves and get the work done to make life in Nashville live up to its designation as the IT city. However in the midst of these changes, very few nonprofit leaders have the luxury to sit back, analyze their organizations and design new technology-based solutions to respond to these changes.

HCA’s Hack for the Community (H4tC) helps nonprofits engage in this invaluable process of design thinking and process improvement via technological innovation. H4tC connects the IT sector to the numerous nonprofit leaders in Nashville who would like to retool their organizations for the technological age.

Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee is one of the organizations that took advantage of the program. Their team developed two ideas to pitch to the Hack for the Community project managers to figure out which project would be the most feasible. The design process was new and exciting for JA and according to their Senior Director of Operations & Programs, Rachel Dyer, H4tC was an exciting adventure,

It was a lot of fun! We were nervous because we had never done it before and wondered, “Will they understand [our project]?” The [HCA] project managers were instrumental in helping us manage the technology world and asked clarifying question… that sparked us! I became something that we hadn’t visualized at and it turned out better than we thought.

Setting up an online training module for volunteers has helped Dyer’s team save valuable time and, at the same time, increased volunteer engagement. Dyer writes that as Nashville grows and commutes get longer, Junior Achievement’s large service area meant that volunteers outside of Nashville in Coffee, Dickson, Tullahoma and Williamson counties, were spending hours commuting back and forth from volunteer trainings. Online trainings mean more people are able to engage with Junior Achievement, “Having a resource in place and online content makes it easier for schools to recruit volunteers…we have been able to expand our volunteer base and training, we not only do it differently, we are doing it better.”

If your organization is like Junior Achievement could design a solution that might save time or improve an experience for you, your staff, volunteers or those you serve, it might be a great proposal for the next round of Hack for the Community. Proposals are due July 1st, selections will be made by July 22 and the actual hackathon is scheduled for October 13th and 14th.