GiveBackHack FAQs (frequently asked questions)

General GiveBackHack FAQs

Who attends GiveBackHack?

Participants come together from 4 main categories:

  • People in the impact space — folks who work at non-profits or in social enterprises, folks who volunteer, who have experienced the problem themselves, or engaged citizens
  • People in the tech space — designers, developers and other technical talent
  • People in the startup/business space — those who understand monetization strategy, how to commercialize products, sell them, etc.
  • Anyone: If they come with a great attitude, are willing to work and learn, and can figure things out as they go. “Who here can Google something?” (hands raise) “Perfect! GiveBackHack is right for you!”

Do I have to have an idea to pitch at GiveBackHack?

You don’t need to have an idea to come to GiveBackHack. There will be pitches on Friday night — some of them will be brand new ideas and some will be partially-vetted ideas. After those pitches, you can join a team to work on an idea you’re interested in.

What types of ideas are pitched at GiveBackHack?

GiveBackHack is ideal for an early stage idea (i.e. a “partially-vetted” idea) or brand new idea that is looking for next steps. At GiveBackHack, ideas or companies can find additional team members with different skills, connections to mentors & experts in the city, resources to move forward like funding and business resources – and so much more.

What is a partially-vetted idea?

Any idea where work has already started. If you have a prototype, a website, customers, users, or have received funding or awards in the past, this idea is considered “partially-vetted”.

Unlike other weekend-long events, you are able to bring this idea to GiveBackHack, but you do need to get the idea approved before pitching at the event via an application on This ensures GiveBackHack is the right launchpad for you. When your idea is approved — you even get a free ticket to the event!

How is GiveBackHack different from other hackathons?

A few ways. First, we accept partially vetted ideas. For this reason, GiveBackHack can be a great next step after another hackathon or community event. We love working with other community hackathons, grant application workshops, concept academies, and other events to help ideas find team members, go through additional stages of vetting, and receive next step resources.

Second, we focus in on the weekend itself being a launchpad. Our progress doesn’t end on Sunday night. Instead – it’s just kicking off. After the weekend, we connect the newly formed social enterprises that come out of GiveBackHack to resources in the community to move forward. Resources depend on the community but have included social enterprise accelerators, entrepreneurship workshops, social impact incubators, concept academies, and more.

Third, we’re focused on bringing together a diverse group of attendees. At a GiveBackHack, you’ll find all levels of expertise: from experienced professionals with 10+ years of career under their belts to students obsessed with the latest trends. You’ll also find different types of experience: GiveBackHack actively works to find participants from 3 key categories: Impact (individuals who understand deeply understand the issues through personal experience or day-to-day work), Tech (Designers, Developers and more who understand how to take a vision into a prototyped reality), and Startup/Business (people who understand how to commercialize and monetize technology).

The goal of GiveBackHack is to lower the barrier to entry, minimize the risk of starting out on your own, and bring together the impact, tech, and startup/business communities as equals to make a social impact in our city.

What if I am unable to attend the full weekend event?

GiveBackHack is a Launchpad for Social Innovation and therefore a bit of commitment: a full weekend. However, we do understand that GiveBackHack is a once-a-year event where you may have responsibilities during the weekend that cannot be prevented. If you are incredibly passionate about attending to be a part of a team that creates impact moving forward for years to come, there are opportunities for you to still be involved and even attend.

If this is the case for you, we ask that you reach out to your organizing team to give them a bit of context in advance to let them know you are passionate about attending but have an additional commitment. Your organizing team will then help identify the best plan to get you involved, as possible. 

Typically, this means attending as much of the weekend as you can, proactively communicating with team members when you will be away from the event, and working with the facilitator once you get back on-site to get up-to-speed and integrated back into the event. It also means that you will need to be flexible with your team, go-with-the-flow of the decisions that were made in your absence, and work to provide value with the time you have based on the team plan.

What happens if my idea doesn’t have a team to move forward with at GiveBackHack?

GiveBackHack is all about community. We usually have 50+ pitches and only enough attendees for ~15 of those ideas to move forward. Given this math – it’s impossible for all ideas to be picked! That’s OK. It may not even mean you don’t have a good idea, but it does mean that this particular event wasn’t the right people, place and/or time.

If your idea isn’t picked, it’s highly encouraged that you join another team. The connections you make over the weekend at GiveBackHack can be instrumental in your journey to make an impact or create entrepreneurial endeavors in your community!

How are teams formed at GiveBackHack?

On Friday night, GiveBackHack facilitates a few activities to give you an understanding of how to find success during the full weekend, as well as help you get-to-know your fellow participants. Towards the midpoint of the evening, we’ll invite you to share your idea. You’ll have 60 seconds (no slides!). Usually, ~50 ideas are shared. From there, we have all attendees “vote” on top ideas. Votes will be counted and from there, attendees will have the opportunity to identify which of the top ideas they work on.

You are responsible for recruiting your team – GiveBackHack can’t force folks to work with you or on your idea. This may mean you would want to do things that could work to maximize your success:

  • Posting your idea in advance as a Pre-Submitted Idea
  • Promoting your Pre-Submitted Idea via social media or in discussion at events prior to GiveBackHack
  • Practicing your pitch in advance (you have 60 seconds and no slides!)
  • Listening to and taking feedback from others on your idea (what you find most engaging may not be the thing others do!)
  • Creating opportunity for additional leaders (Coming to the table with an idea and indicating you want to bring others on as equals is powerful. There is plenty of work to get done on an idea and a lot of leadership in varying areas to go around. No one wants to work on a team where they don’t feel equal or empowered.)
  • Getting to GiveBackHack on-time and using the time to get to know other attendees as people: Get to know people for who they are. Casual conversations help folks understand if you’re the type of person they’d enjoy spending long hours with as you battle social entrepreneurship together. When the moment is right, you can begin to talk about your passion for your idea, too!

Is GiveBackHack a good place to recruit team members? Why do you ask about finding cofounders?

GiveBackHack is not a place to find free development and strategy work. It is a place where you can find partners who take on an early (sometimes cofounding) role within the organization. No single person is “CEO” at GiveBackHack telling folks what to do – people come together as a team.

Do teams always move forward together after GiveBackHack?

We do not require that a full team move forward after GiveBackHack. Sometimes folks decide they enjoyed the weekend, but it’s not the right idea/time/team for them – and that’s fine. Teams are required to work with one-another to identify the steps that make the most sense to them. 

Do ideas always move forward after GiveBackHack?

While on average >50% of ideas move forward out of GiveBackHack weekend, of course, not all ideas are right to move forward. In fact, at GiveBackHack, we take just as much pride in the ideas that move forward to make an impact compared to the ideas that do not.

The process of vetting over a weekend frees up smart folks to acknowledge that their time/energy may be better suited on the next idea, or joining another impact effort.

Who owns the intellectual property for the ideas submitted or created during the GiveBackHack event?

GiveBackHack as an organization and as an event doesn’t promote or endorse any specific guidelines around intellectual property.

We award funds and in-kind resources to top teams with great ideas, but intellectual property considerations ultimately fall to folks with legal expertise outside of the realm of GiveBackHack and our organizing team.

All of that being said, the ideas being pitched at GiveBackHack events are just that: ideas. At such an early stage, until crucial validation steps are made to prove that an idea has value, intellectual property is not traditionally a serious concern.

We recommend you take the time to reflect to identify if GiveBackHack is the right Launchpad for you. If you’re uncomfortable sharing an idea, pick a different idea to share or work on a different one. GiveBackHack is built on the opportunity you can take advantage of when you work with the community!