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January 2015 People: Hidden Heroes/WIMP


When Melissa Geissinger and Joshua Simmons started WIMP (Web & Interactive Media Professionals) in 2011, they were tapping into a local need to gather like minds. “It started as a meetup group (meetup.com), which is one of my favorite corners of the Internet, because it inspires people to meet up in person—there’s something for everyone,” says Geissinger. “Twenty-five people showed up to the initial group,” she adds, “one of them is now my husband.” The collective serves the needs of all sorts businesses and organizations throughout the area and also offers events, classes and workshops.
 
WIMP has since blossomed into 488 local members (850 global) and opened its co-working space in downtown Santa Rosa last September. On November 1, it hosted its second-annual “charity hackathon” known as WIMPgives. On that day, 50 Web designers and digital marketing volunteers joined forces to donate $75,000 worth of services to build websites for seven nonprofits—in one day.
 
Well, OK, there was some prep work. First a selection process, where nonprofits applied for the service and were chosen based on who was most qualified and what could be built in one day. “The ones we selected got ‘homework’ for what was needed prior to the build day,” says Geissinger. “Each WIMP team included a designer, a developer and a project manager, among others,” she says. “We met with the nonprofits for a ‘prep day’ two weeks before the build day to ensure everything was ready to go.”
 
Each WIMP volunteer donated at least 12 hours to the project, for a total of approximately 750 hours. “There were marketing specialists, content specialists and social media experts, too. So the nonprofits didn’t just get a website, they got a marketing strategy. Having that knowledge and a specific plan on how to use it is huge,” she says.
 
“We wanted to give members the chance to collaborate while getting the word out about who we are, challenge ourselves by putting our skills to the test under pressure, and really make a difference in the community,” she says. “A nonprofit that has a donation page built into its website receives about six times the donations than one that doesn’t.”
 
 
In March 2014, Geissinger published a book called 1 Day Web Designer (available on Amazon) based on the program’s success. This year, nonprofits can apply for services beginning May 4. For more information on WIMP and WIMPgives, visit www.beawimp.org.

 

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