The Big Give Goes Virtual: Tech Volunteers Step Up to Update Nonprofit Websites

Published October 13, 2021 at 10:54am.
Interview by Mary Martin. Photos courtesy of Big Give Dallas.

Websites and digital content can often be an overwhelming project for a smaller nonprofit organization. But volunteers at The Big Give are out to change that fact. Typically a one-day hackathon, The Big Give gathers digital professionals from across North Texas so they can volunteer their time and skillsets to transform the web presences of local nonprofits.

This year, The Big Give will be hosting a virtual hack-a-thon from October 2-October 23, 2021 and helping two organizations who are making a big difference in our community. Geoff Ka’alani, co-founder of The Big Give, shares about what looks different this year, and how they are planning for their next in-person event in 2022.

Volunteers from The Big Give event in 2019.

Volunteers from The Big Give event in 2019.

Tell us about the journey of The Big Give from 2018 to this year’s event. What has your team learned and what will be different with a virtual event?

Like many other nonprofit organizations, The Big Give has undergone a massive transformation from 2018 to the present. We’ve learned many lessons over the past few years for improving our live event, from event operations to program improvements. And we’ve begun to grow our board with extremely talented individuals who have a passion for the same mission. Admittedly, even for a tech-led nonprofit, we are struggling to reproduce the camaraderie, buzz, excitement, chatter, nervousness and frenetic collaboration of years past.

Volunteer fatigue over the past year and a half has led us to adjust the format of this year’s event to be more flexible in nature for our all-virtual event. We’ve reduced the scope to two local nonprofit organizations and changed the format from one big, long day to over the course of three weeks—October 2-October 23, 2021—to design and implement websites for these nonprofits.

Which two nonprofit organizations were chosen for this year’s website redesigns and how will a new website help strengthen their missions?

African American Repertory Theater (AART) returns to The Big Give as a participant from our 2019 event. While the pandemic has affected live theater across the nation, we’re grateful for the opportunity to complete the website before their triumphant return to the stage. This nonprofit theater explores themes, insights and stories which are intriguing and probing—stories which need to be heard. The revamped website will introduce potential theatergoers to the plays, as well as improve the ticketing process so that theatergoers will be able to purchase tickets online and only need to arrive at the theater before the curtain goes up.

Deliberate is the second nonprofit organization chosen for The Big Give 2021. Deliberate focuses on the collection and distribution of gently used quality furniture to newly arriving refugees, asylees and other displaced persons in crisis. Because these newly arriving populations are arriving suddenly and under duress, Deliberate alleviates the burden of sourcing and affording furniture in order to create a welcoming environment, a home. Dallas is the leader in the nation for resettled refugees and there is a very real and relevant need for organizations like Deliberate. Our rockstar volunteers will curate and craft custom content in a mobile friendly format for communication with the masses.

Geoff Ka’alani, co-founder of The Big Give Dallas.

Geoff Ka’alani, co-founder of The Big Give Dallas.

The Big Give is known for its strong connections with the business community. Which corporate web development teams are volunteering for the 2021 hack-a-thon, and which companies are providing sponsorship to make it all possible?

As our format for 2021 has changed, the composition of our teams has also changed. This year, teams are comprised of individuals from several companies around the metroplex, including Capital One, USAA, Sam’s Club, projekt202 and Signify Health—we are thrilled to see so many returning faces and servant hearts, as well as one volunteer who just moved to Dallas within the last few weeks and was still eager to participate.

We recognize that the financial landscape has changed for many over the past year and a half and our corporate sponsors are busily serving their populations, so we have decided to forego soliciting for donations this year. Voyage Embroidery has provided us with an extremely generous discount on t-shirts, so that we are able to provide our volunteers with small tokens of our appreciation on a very limited budget.

With a virtual event, how can the community get involved? Will there be an opportunity to watch the final website presentations live?

With our virtual event, the community can get involved by following along with the event progress! Follow @aartheater, @bedleliberate and @biggivedallas. Once it’s safe to do so, catch an AART production or donate or help deliver quality furniture for Deliberate. If not these worthy organizations, please continue supporting your favorite local nonprofits.

We will be featuring each of the nonprofits and our volunteers on our social media platforms and a link to the final presentation will be sent to those who’ve participated in past years or are subscribed to our email distribution list. Please sign up for email updates on our website,

Are there plans in the works for The Big Give 2022? How can nonprofits apply and how can volunteers sign up to help?

Yes! The board is busily planning for more program improvements in our hopeful return to a live event in 2022.

Nonprofits and volunteers can apply on our website (Nonprofits | Individual Volunteers | Teams) for next year’s event. While it is early, we encourage nonprofits to apply early on, to allow for time and resources to be allocated should their nonprofit be selected for our event.

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