I was first inspired to start a pro bono committee at Soliant Consulting back at the 2015 FileMaker Developer Conference, after having a very moving conversation with developer Christopher Manton at the hotel bar. You can read more about my conversation with Christopher here. The Humanitarian Committee was born and it has really taken off; we’ve been able to help many non-profits through it over the years.
Three years later it was at the 2018 FileMaker Developer Conference that the seeds for what is now join::table would be sown. I was presenting a session at the conference about the success stories of the Humanitarian Committee, hoping to inspire more developers to consider doing pro bono work. After my session, a young woman named Amy Pearson came up to me and asked “Is it possible for me to be part of the Humanitarian Committee? Even if I don’t work at Soliant? I would love to learn from more experienced developers as well as being able to give back to the community at the same time.”
I thought: What a brilliant idea that is! How can we expand the concept of the Humanitarian Committee to beyond just Soliant, and open it to everyone?
That day I was lucky enough to have lunch with Molly Connelly, who is a huge human rights activist, and Molly is known in our community to make things happen. I pitched the idea to her and she fully supported it, and is currently an advisor for join::table. She introduced me to Jonathan Nicoletti, who is extremely passionate about helping non-profits, to the point where he has built his company with the sole purpose of helping non-profit organizations with their FileMaker needs.
Chris Kubica and I started exchanging emails discussing the mentorship program at Women Innovating Together (WIT). Chris is a WIT volunteer mentor, and I run the initiative. During this email exchange we shared with each other similar obstacles we faced, the biggest one being the overuse of exclamation points in emails and the need to self-edit. During a casual electronic conversation, Chris mentioned:
“I was thinking maybe I could start a thing where established FileMaker shops donate pro bono hours to make amazing things for NFPs and public schools.”
My jaw dropped. I had just found the 3rd member of the team.
(here we all are—dorks one and all—during a recent, virtual team meeting)
What’s in a name?
One of our first tasks was to come up with a good name. After some group brainstorming, we came up with some creative ideas, such as:
- One-to-Many Effect: This was our front-runner at one point, but then we realized it could be read as “One Too Many” and we didn’t want to publicize our drinking problems (too much)
- The Many-to-Many Effect
- The Community Project
- Open Fields
- Purpose Project
- join::table: The winner! We liked this because of the visual of different people (developers and nonprofits) coming together at a table, as well as the dorky FileMaker [and general database schema] reference. We hope to be the actual “join table” between FileMaker developers and non-profits.
/join ˈtābəl/ noun. An organization run by FileMaker Developers with the purpose of connecting non-profits with developers who wish to use their skills to make a meaningful impact in the community.
We were even able to apply our rejected organization names to the meaningful work we’re trying to do:
The One-to-Many Effect
/THē wən too menē əˈfekt/ noun. The difference one developer can make, to many people in need, by donating their time to help a non-profit be more effective
The Many-to-Many Effect
/THē menē too menē əˈfekt/ noun. The substantial impact that can be made when many developers team up to help many non-profits
Our Vision For the Future
We have big dreams: We’d love to make join::table an efficient, well-structured organization with different departments and committees. We hope to create teams for different geographies / companies / walks of life. I have created a big picture workflow of how I’d love to see join::table work one day, displayed below. As for today, we are a small group of dedicated folks gathering interest in the initiative so we can take steps needed to grow into our “big picture” idea.
In order to get there, we need to know you’re interested! If so, send us a note! And if you have any questions or comments about join::table, send us those, too, at firstname.lastname@example.org.