Networking and philanthrophy mingle at GiveBack DC's yearly celebration - DC


Oct. 9, 2015 12:57 pm

Networking and philanthrophy mingle at GiveBack DC’s yearly celebration

The event brought web developers, designers, startup founders and nonprofit volunteers together to celebrate a year of giving back.

Web Development Group managing director Ab Emam speaks to the crowd at 1776.

(Photo by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier)

Over 700 attendees were registered for a packed GiveBack DC event at 1776 on Thursday evening. Music swelled over the sounds of excited networking chatter as the attendees met the three chosen nonprofits (puppies included), and celebrated another year of giving back. By around 9 p.m., those that remained were getting down to a particularly funky remix of “No Diggity.”

The event centered around the three nonprofits GiveBack DC has built websites for this year. Bethany House of Northern Virginia, Semper K9 and Critical Exposure had the opportunity to tell their stories, meet potential volunteers or donors and raise money in real time. Screens around the venue showed mockups of what the three new websites will look like — these will be live soon.

Bethany House of Northern Virginia, a network of shelters that provide a safe place for women and children who have been the victims of domestic violence, worked the room in purple T-shirts and bubbling enthusiasm.

They were more than happy to discuss their new web presence. “We’re a volunteer organization,” development manager Brand Womble told, “so our website looked like a volunteer website.” But that’s all about to change. “We’re blown away by the work [The Web Development Group] has done, and they’re nice people on top of it!”

Brad Womble, managing director of Bethany House of Northern Virginia..

Brad Womble, managing director of Bethany House of Northern Virginia. (Photo by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier)

Semper K9, a husband-and-wife team that rescues dogs from local shelters and trains them to be service animals for disabled veterans, brought two of their dogs along. For Kiernan, a black lab mix, the evening marked her first appearance at a major event.

Semper K9 also had nothing but good things to say about their experience with GiveBack DC. “A lot of the people we serve are disabled veterans or veterans with PTSD,” director of operations Amanda Baity told the crowd, “the new website will be much easier for them to navigate.”


Kiernan of Semper K9, one of the evening's most popular guests.

Kiernan of Semper K9, one of the evening’s most popular guests. (Photo by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier)

Critical Exposure, an organization that trains youth in photography as a means towards advocacy and storytelling, also spread their message. “The new website will be more visual,” Eugene Lau told

And this, as executive director Adam Levner told the crowd later, is vital to their mission. “The website will help students because it can serve as a portfolio of their work,” Levner said. “And it will help our advocacy by showcasing what we do.”

Adam Levner, executive director of Critical Exposure.

Adam Levner, executive director of Critical Exposure. (Photo by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier)

Another component of the evening was the live fundraising efforts powered by GoodWorld and their #donate technology. Attendees could to donate to any of the nonprofits present simply by commenting “#donate[dollar amount]” on Twitter or Facebook. This induced a spirit of competition without any real downside — all of the nonprofits were able to raise money.

An attendee #donates during the GiveBack DC event.

An attendee #donates during the GiveBack DC event. (Photo by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier)

Now in it’s fourth year, GiveBack DC is an impressive venture. But The Web Development Group wants to do more moving into the future.

At Thursday’s event, managing director Ab Emam announced two new projects. One is a community portal that allows individuals to match with nonprofits for volunteering purposes, and the other is a series of workshops for nonprofits aimed at giving them tools and tips for using social, fundraising, etc.

Mockups of the three new websites were on display.

Mockups of the three new websites were on display. (Photo by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier)

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