The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Chicago 2017, March 18-19

On March 18-19, nerds will give their time & talent to help nonprofits do what they do – but better – online.

About the Event

The Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge is a volunteer-driven program of the Nerdery Foundation, aimed at maximizing the community impact of nonprofit organizations through digital strategy and custom software design and development – all pro bono.

Registration is open now for Chicagoland volunteer web pros and nonprofits vying for their professional services. The sooner you complete your application, the better your odds to get involved – and get the most out of this experience.


From now through February 12th, eligible nonprofits (501c3-registered organizations in Illinois) can apply for this pro bono opportunity by articulating their vision of how nerds could further their mission through better use of interactive technology. After completing their application, nonprofits direct their constituents/fans to post supporting testimonials to their online profiles; selection will favor nonprofits whose applications are endorsed by people served by the organization, donors, volunteers, staff, board members and other supporters. Orgs must upload proof of 501c3 nonprofit status to complete their application.


Starting now and through February 22nd, volunteer teams can self-organize with 6-12 people. Team captains recruit their peers and cover these skill sets: front-end development; back-end development; project management; strategy; UX; graphic design; copywriting; QA. All team members must be available the entire 24 hours. During this hackathon, each web pro team will serve one of the selected nonprofits, pro bono, for the next 24 hours. An independent panel of judges/thought leaders representing the nonprofit and interactive communities will assess the work of development teams.

Can't participate that weekend, or unable to stay the full 24 hours? We have additional nerdy roles to fill. Sign up as a Strategist/Planner to be paired with a nonprofit to help them document their needs prior to the event (note: Registration for Strategist/Planners ends February 10th). Or be a Subject Matter Expert or Free Agent to offer your knowledge and skills to all teams during the event. Start an application to learn more.

What's Changed

The Nerdery Foundation has reflected on what we’ve done with this event since 2008, asking past participants for their free advice on what to keep doing, stop doing and/or consider doing, including how change can be a constant good going forward. See our thought process and summary of changes – good context for everyone.


The Nerdery is a digital strategy consultancy of human-centered designers and software engineers. The Nerdery’s mission is pursuing yours by orchestrating change, transforming companies into tech companies. Founded by three programming pioneers in 2003, The Nerdery was built on the belief that passionate Nerds are the driving force behind business breakthroughs. Headquartered in the Twin Cities with offices in Chicago, Kansas City and Phoenix, The Nerdery is professional home of about 500 software engineers, user experience designers, quality assurance engineers and other Nerds whose purpose is to redefine what’s possible through technology. The Nerdery’s core services are mobile applications, web applications, websites, systems integration and digital consulting. The Nerdery’s vision is to be the best place in the world for Nerds to work. Nerdery clients pursuing digital transformation realize the impact of engaged Nerds immersed in a collaborative culture of innovation. The Nerdery has made Inc. Magazine’s list of fastest growing private companies each year since becoming eligible and appeared on multiple top workplace lists. The Nerdery’s core values are rooted in reflective analysis of how Nerds have made decisions in the past, and in how the company intends to keep moving forward in order to form a more perfect Nerdery: Be humble; Constantly push boundaries; Integrity in all circumstances; Solve problems pragmatically; Win by empowering people.


The Nerdery Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, works to activate technologists to use their talents and skills to better our world. Through its flagship event, The Overnight Website Challenge, over 1000 volunteer web pros have donated about $6 million in pro bono services to 175 nonprofits. Like-minded companies/foundations interested in sponsorship opportunities or donations should contact us.

Important Dates

Feb 12
Registration closes for Nonprofits & Strategist/Planners
(Team Member/Developer registration remains open until Feb 22nd)
Feb 13
Announce semifinalist nonprofits and begin Strategy/Planning work with semifinalists
Feb 22
Team Member/Developer registration closes
Feb 25
Announce final nonprofits/teams for the Overnight Website Challenge
Mar 8
Pre-Challenge Mixer
Shortly before Web Challenge weekend, The Nerdery convenes team captains and nonprofit reps for an orientation/speed-dating exercise to make best-possible matches between orgs and nerds – but neither the nonprofits nor teams know with whom they’ll be paired until just before the 24-hour countdown clock begins ticking at 9 a.m. on the Saturday of Web Challenge weekend.
Mar 18-19
Web Challenge Weekend
Official hours are 9 am Saturday through 9 am Sunday, but with set-up and come-down time, you’ll want to otherwise clear your calendar for the entire weekend.
Apr 5
Web Challenge Awards
Awards night happens a few weeks after Web Challenge weekend. Top teams are recognized for Design/UX, Functionality, and Impact. The People’s Choice award is a crowd-sourced via public voting, based on before/after screenshots, links to new websites and testimonials from nonprofit reps and web pros. Top prize remains bragging rights, and the gratification of nerdy deeds done in the name of community service.


The Nerdery
1033 W. Van Buren St., Suite 700
Chicago, IL 60607

Day of the Event

Here's the schedule for the event on March 18-19:

7:30 - 8:30 am
Registration. Web teams set up work stations.
8:45 am
Welcome announcements. Nonprofits meet their teams of web volunteers.
9:00 am
Countdown begins.
Teams receive help from on-site Subject Matter Experts, while judges make the rounds to begin assessing each team's plan and work so far.
6:00 pm
Second dinner
6:00 am
More caffeine and/or calories – everything must go...
9:00 am
Drawing for fabulous prizes, then goodbye until Web Challenge Awards night (you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here)


Apply to participate as a web pro, or submit your nonprofit application now!

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