For decades, the little orange boxes toted around by kids on Halloween to collect UNICEF donations have been bright spots of generosity in a holiday more about looting than giving. They also make a perfect iPhone case.
This realization gave a team of five women the edge at #CHIMEHACK, a hackathon held this month at Twitter's HQ in San Francisco. The event was a tentpole for Gucci's Chime for Change campaign, which raises money for projects supporting women's and girls' education, health and justice causes around the world. Chime for Change has raised $4.4 million to support more than 260 projects in 81 countries through nonprofit organizations vetted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-backed, women-focused crowdfunding platform Catapult.
As one of five #CHIMEHACK challenges, UNICEF and Jawbone asked hackers to create a mobile app for young kids and their parents that allows for digital payments and gamified engagement as they trick or treat for UNICEF. The winning app used characters from popular cartoon Adventure Time (license pending, obviously), to lead kids through a series of challenges unlocked by each donation, which are collected instantly within the app to avoid the lost, unmailed, or untrackable coins and checks of the program's past. The team of women from New York, California, and Sweden, who had only met the night before, realized that the smartphone used to run the app could also be snugly embedded in the traditional collection box.
"It was a beautiful example of using an iconic form for the future, and using a brand children are already familiar with," says Jawbone VP Aza Raskin, whose company provided the $10,000 first-place prize for the UNICEF challenge.
With 105 engineer and designer competitors, the majority of whom were women, the hackathon itself was a massive teamup of brand and tech titans. Mentors, judges and speakers included Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, Google's Susan Wojcicki, Facebook's Kate Aronowitz, and Alexia Tsotsis of TechCrunch. Sponsors included not only Gucci, Twitter and Jawbone, but VC firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers, TEDWomen, Women Who Code, the Skoll Foundation, Yelp, PayPal and Hearst Magazines, who have been a Chime for Change partner since shortly after its founding in February.
"We service a large female community so we feel like we also have a responsibility," says Phil Wiser, CTO of Hearst Corporation, who served as a judge. "At Cosmo, for example, the theme is 'Fun, Fearless, Female,' and the fearless part is a holistic view of taking control of your life. And then by extension influencing the way the world is going."
Other #CHIMEHACK challenges resulted in a mapping app to help Riders for Health improve medical care access in remote African villages, and networking apps to inspire women's leadership and career growth for Vital Voices and UN Women. Serving the overall campaign directly, Gucci challenged hackers to design a Chime for Change-branded app to amplify voices speaking out for women and prompt users to take action around events, news, and causes affecting women and girls. The winning app, which uses Twitter to help women share needs, raise money, and find others with interests in the same causes, will be further developed by Gucci and released on March 8, International Women's Day.
Gucci CMO Robert Triefus says the app and its social media integration will be important to help Chime for Change maintain momentum as it heads into its second year. "The idea of the hackathon was that the brilliant brains who come together can uncover innovative ways of using technology to create social change, under the umbrella of women's and girls' empowerment," says Triefus. "Today, and with social media in particular, people want to be engaged with the thing that they're supporting. Being engaged means they want to understand what happens before, during and after."