NPO 012: Adam Walker (48in48)

Today's Guest: Adam Walker
     I’m Adam Walker and I can pretty neatly divide my life into three categories, family, business and nonprofit work.
     On the family side (it’s always first) I’m a husband and father of five. So, my hobby is my kids, and having adventures with them. I love to sit through ballets and sweat at swim meets, who doesn’t?
     On the business side, I’m the co-founder of Sideways8, a digital agency based out of Atlanta. At Sideways8 we start by creating an amazing website that communicates to the right people in the right way, then we help drive traffic to that site. We value communication, quality and sarcasm.
     I co-founded my first nonprofit when I was a senior in high school (my co-founder was a junior). Since then I have started two other nonprofits, the most recent of which is 48in48. 48in48 puts together events that build 48 websites for 48 nonprofits in 48 hours. In 2017 we held the event in four cities, but in 2018 we will grow that to six and continue to expand internationally from there.
     I also love to blog at, podcast at and dabble in other ventures here and there. You can find me on twitter @ajwalker

Nonprofit Spotlight: 48in48 
Centered around 48-hour hackathon-style events: 48in48 connects local nonprofits and skilled marketing and technology professionals. At the end of these 48 hours, 48 local nonprofits have new, professional, websites.

Lessons Learned:
     Taking lessons from the tech start-up world, Adam and his co-founder Jeff recognized early on the importance of having a bold vision. For them, this was the idea that they could make 48 new websites for 48 local nonprofits in 48 hours. As they plan for the future, they have identified equally bold goals for their organization. Having a bold vision helps engage people who wonder if it's even possible to achieve it and, once they experience the thrill of making it work, get hooked to stay involved.
     As 48in48 expands to new markets, Adam has found it helpful to focus on one thing at a time. Each year, they add a new element to the equation that gets them closer to their goal. For example, next year, 48in48 will add an international city. Another year, they will have two 48in48 events on the same weekend and slowly they will build the infrastructure necessary to scale up their size.
     One thing Adam was surprised by in this work was that one of the hardest parts of this project was getting nonprofits involved. In order to successfully navigate the process of creating a new website, 48in48 needs each local nonprofit to put in about 20 hours of work. Since most small nonprofits are already stretched thin, this can be a difficult task. They have learned to reach out to larger umbrella organizations to help spread the word and provide a longer window of time for nonprofits to complete those 20 hours of prep work.

Tools for Nonprofits: 

  1. Sign up for 48in48's Impact Lab! The Impact Lab will be a mini-conference digitally presented to enable nonprofits to understand digital marketing best practices. If you register before July 21st, it is completely free! 
  2. If you're located in the Twin Cities, Atlanta or New York City, you could apply for your nonprofit to participate in a 48in48 event this fall!
        Twin Cities: Nonprofit Program is July 7 - September 17, 2017. If you complete the form before July 7th, you may still have a chance to be considered!
        Atlanta: Nonprofit Program is July 25 - October 8, 2017.
        New York City: Nonprofit Program is August 25 - November 5, 2017.
  3. Download 48in48's Branding Questionnaire and Website Content Questionnaire. Even if you're not able to get a new website from 48in48, you can use this great tool to help guide conversations within your nonprofit about your messaging and branding!

Story of Good: Unexpected volunteers and the joy of giving back
     Adam shared two stories of good. First, was the story of the unexpected volunteer. After seeing a very short clip about the 48in48 event in Atlanta on the news, this man grabbed his bag and walked across the street to where the event was being held. He turned out to be a very experienced website designer who ended up playing a crucial role throughout the weekend!
     The second story was about a volunteer at their Boston event this year. One of the general volunteers who was staffing the Help desk was really excited and actively engaged in the event. The staff from 48in48 noticed and appreciated his excitement and talked with him more. It turned out that he was the Executive Director of a nonprofit, but had missed the deadline to apply. Still interested in learning more about 48in48 and supporting it's great work, he had signed up to be a volunteer for the weekend. Unexpectedly, one of the nonprofits that was supposed to receive a new website that weekend dropped out and they were in a bind to find a new nonprofit. Knowing this volunteer's story, they were able to actually build him an updated website for his nonprofit!

Next Guest: Lee Ann Eiland, Development Manager for Playworks Illinois