makeadiff-homepage-screenshotOne afternoon, Atlassian co-Founder and co-CEO Scott Farquhar walked up to my desk and said, “Melissa… the Foundation needs to do something amazing.” No pressure, right?

As the one who is responsible for running the Atlassian Foundation, my first thought was, “How do we top what we’re already doing?” The  Foundation works on a one percent model, where one percent of profit, employee time, and company equity is donated to nonprofits.

We also support Room to Read, a Bay Area-based nonprofit that’s dedicated to improving literacy and education around the world, through our unique Causium model (Causium = freemium + cause). Initially launched in 2009 with a five-day trial offering of Atlassian products for $5 for 5 users, our goal was for the Causium model to raise $25,000 for charity… and it raised $100,000 in less than a week. The program has since evolved into our $10 for 10 users starter license program, with all proceeds donated to Room to Read. We’ve now donated over $2.5 million – more than 100X our original goal – to help fund education for more than 90,000 children in Cambodia.

So it was no small task for me to come up with something amazing; this is a pretty hard act to follow! But when I looked through my inbox and thought back to the many conversations I’d had with nonprofits – amazing organizations that are lifting people out of poverty, educating children from disadvantaged background, and making inroads to ending slavery – I realized that they’re not always asking for donations. When speaking with these nonprofits, I typically hear things like:

“Our website is so outdated, can you help us?”

“We need a way to communicate with each other, we really need an intranet.”

“We got a quote for our app. It’s $100k, but we don’t have $100k. We don’t even have $10k.”

Small requests like these could have such an impact on so many organizations, but addressing them just didn’t seem scalable. How could we meet all their needs, even with the five days of paid volunteer leave per year that every Atlassian receives?

Two of our Atlassian Foundation Councillors, Graeme Smith and Matt Jensen, came up with the answer: What charities need most is access to technology experts who have already shown interest in helping out; techies who are ready, willing, and able to give back at a moment’s notice.

Well (drum roll), we’re excited to announce the launch of MakeaDiff.org, a crowdsourcing platform where technology experts can connect with nonprofits to convert ideas into successful technology projects. Charities can list jobs they need help with – homepage design, UI advice, project roadmapping, data analysis – and specialists like you can dive right in, and Make a Diff.

MakeaDiff2

Forget about websites with tons of listings for long-term projects that may or may not ever get off the ground. MakeaDiff.org is a JIRA-powered platform where you can contribute anytime, anywhere, and get started right away. MakeaDiff.org is currently in a “minimum viable product” state, and we’re doing a soft launch by piloting projects and testing the usability of the website with Atlassian volunteers. Once we’ve ironed out the bugs, we’ll open it up to allow more charities to list their nonprofit projects and enable techies outside of Atlassian contribute their time.

Please comment below if you have ideas for how we can make MakeaDiff.org even better. Or hit us up if you’re a nonprofit with a technology project you’d like to feature on the site.

As for all you tech experts out there? We invite you to get in touch by leaving a comment, as we need your help to test and develop MakeaDiff.org. Today could be the day to start using your powers for good.

Think of it like a dating website for charities to meet tech experts. Amazing things are going to happen.

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