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During 2012/13 TheGivingLab ran a series of hack weekends in collaboration with Microsoft, Google Campus, General Assembly and others to test  whether they might be a vehicle for incubating new ways to generate income for UK charities.

Find out what they cost here and how to make them a success here.


Hack events bring together generous and smart people with skills in coding, digital design and entrepreneurial thinking to create innovative solutions to charity problems, including new income streams or ways of fundraising.

Click here to get a flavour of some of the ideas generated.


We wanted to see if the ideas created added something different to the charity market, so we asked several major and mid scale charities to assess 10 of the prototypes created. We wanted them to rate the ideas for originality (we wouldn’t have produced this), relevance to them (does it solve a problem they have) and commercial scale of impact (would it make a difference).

To our delight – ALL ideas were rated highly creative and surprisingly each charity focused on one or two ideas relevant to them and each charity made DIFFERENT selections. All charities found 1-3 projects commercially viable for them.


There are 3 quick questions you need to ask:

  • Why are you doing it?
  • Where does it fit into your business process?
  • What’s the cost vs what’s the benefit?

Hack events aren’t a cheap replacement for your fundraising and digital teams.

What they do deliver is a diversity of thinking, ideas and energy. That’s valuable. Hack communities are great at seeing things differently, they can help think about reaching new audiences, innovative products and different ways of delivering your services – and they love tech.

But your charity still needs a plan for taking great ideas to market and a financial model that makes sense. Also you need to be clear about the terms of engagement – do teams keep the rights in their ideas (especially revenue generating ones), do you want to develop ideas generated in-house or collaboratively with the creators?

If your charity is thinking about running hack events and you’d like some help, drop us a line:

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