WIMPs muscles up for nonprofits
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By Kaydon Coburn  March 22, 2013 12:00 am

A unique technology opportunity involving website development will be provided at no cost for Sonoma County nonprofits April 6 through an organization known as Web & Interactive Media Professionals (WIMPs).

“Sonoma County has more nonprofits than any other area in the nation. We wanted to take industry professionals and share them with the community,” says Joshua Simmons, WIMPs president and founder.

“This is a chance to show people what goes into making a website. Many people don’t know the complexities that go into building digital media. We have an industry where people don’t understand the value or complexity of what we (technology developers) are doing. We struggle with people asking for “spec” work. We want to show people this is what it takes – how complex it is. Yes, we’re doing it in a day…these are exceptional circumstances. We have to work hard to make it possible.”

WIMPgives, at Sonoma Mountain Village, is a free event produced by a diverse community of technology industry professionals made up of volunteer designers, programmers, marketing specialists, search engine optimization experts, social media gurus, and a variety of technology based backgrounds from throughout Sonoma County. “We are professionals and aspiring professionals alike with a common goal to educate, be educated and help cultivate each other’s professional careers,” says the group.

WIMPgives members join a team of fellow website building pros and partners them with local nonprofits with a mission of building them a new website from the ground up in just one day. 

“We feel like we will be in a good position to complete the websites while we are there (one day),” Simmons added. “We are writing basic agreements between the nonprofits and the volunteers, so there will be follow-up and they (nonprofits) will not be left alone. It also hopes to shed some light on some up and coming, or lesser known non-profits in the area in order to give them a leg up and increase their reach and visibility online.”

Positions for each web-building team include project manager, designer, lead developer, assistant developer, and content strategist. Computer science students are invited to observe, learn from their processes, how they work together and may volunteer at the event. WIMPs wants to give technology beginners who want to break into the technology industry “real world” experience and an opportunity to network with other professionals. “One problem with getting an education in computer science is that by the time you graduate your knowledge is out-of-date,” Simmons said. “It‘s great if you’ve got the education, but if you don‘t have the experience, no one is going to hire you. We‘re trying to complete the talent pipeline. We needed to find better talent, help educate each other… we needed to make it easier to find our peers in the industry.”

Another motivating concern of WIMPs is the lack of focus for common, countywide technology support and development, or a general outlook for media and technology development.

“Where’s the technology (outlook), where’s the manufacturing, where’s the media? There is zero support (county wide) for us from the powers that be. It’s insanely frustrating. We’re trying to capture their (county technology associations) attention,” Simmons said.

WIMPs have previously hosted other free, public monthly topic-driven meet-ups, networking events, and lunches such as WIMPshops, WIMPcamp and the North Bay Web Conference. WIMPs claim a collective passion for technology, and a deep commitment towards highlighting the talent the North Bay technology industry professionals have to offer. WIMPs takes pride as an organization that has an exceptional member pool from where companies and individuals can feel confident in beginning their search for new talent.

“We have done education for businesses. This will be the first time we are targeting non-profits,” Simmons said.

The WIMPgives Website Building Event is open to the general public and refreshments will be provided. A network of professionals will be on hand all day to answer any and all questions you may have about technology and the web. The event is April 6 from noon-7 p.m. at the Sonoma Mountain Village Business Cluster, Building 1300, Suite 100. To learn more, visit gives.beawimp.org. or beawimp.org.

“We hope to franchise WIMPs out to other communities so they can benefit as well,” Simmons says.

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