• Paul Fingleton

PayPal Hackathon solves digital challenges for Irish charities

Hackathon brings teams together for Social Good.

This week PayPal held Opportunity Hack, its charity hackathon held in Ireland. The event, which took place at the Castleknock Hotel in Dublin, brought together 30 PayPal teammates to create and develop digital resources and systems for Irish charities over a 24-hour period.

Led by Jonathan Davies, Manager of Small Business Integrations and Optimisations at PayPal, the teammates were drawn from various disciplines including coding, software development, customer support, risk and compliance. They were tasked with working with the charities to develop solutions for their most pressing digital needs.

A judging panel – which consisted of various members of the PayPal team including Maeve Dorman, Vice President of Merchant Operations for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Anthony Rafferty, Director of Merchant Services, as well as Guy Thompson, General Manager of the Castleknock Hotel and President of Fingal Dublin Chamber of Commerce – had the difficult task of choosing the best projects.

The team behind Chifundo, a charity dedicated to the education of some of the most underprivileged children in the villages of Zomba in Malawi, claimed the number one spot. The PayPal techies helped to create an online shop for the organisation to enable it to sell Malawi crafts brought back to Ireland by volunteers, the proceeds of which will be donated directly to the school. They also made it user-friendly so that Chifundo can update it easily.

Second place went to Pieta House which helps those in suicidal distress or engaging in self-harm. It was provided with an app allowing community centres to streamline the registration and payment system for its Darkness Into Light event, thus saving the charity 5,000 volunteer hours, allowing it to gather information on participants and eliminating the handling of over €1.5m in cash.

Junior Achievement Ireland, an organisation that encourages and supports young people to remain in education, and Outreach Moldova, which is dedicated to protecting the rights of vulnerable children in the Republic of Moldova, took joint third. Junior Achievement Ireland collaborated with PayPal to develop an integrated CRM system to digitise materials used in the classroom. Outreach Moldova’s collaboration resulted in a new online ticketing service to make it easier for people to purchase tickets for its dinner and lunch events.


“At PayPal, we are committed to giving back to the local community where we do business. It’s been fantastic to see our team joining forces with local charities to tackle their digital challenges, and come up with solutions that can make a tangible difference to their work.

“It is a tremendous event for all involved. Not only do the charities benefit but PayPal teammates get a great sense of achievement out of applying their expertise to new challenges. Now in its second year, the Opportunity Hack 2.0 has made a significant impact already and helps to address important issues such as social inclusion, education and wellness.”

- Maeve Dorman, VP of Merchant Operations for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Paypal


Kieran Brady, Director of Funding and Advocacy, Pieta House, said: “As our flagship funding event, Darkness Into Light is the single biggest occasion that allows us to keep our doors open and continue to provide our life-saving service free of charge to people all over Ireland. Over the years, the event has grown from strength to strength, but with that, so have its needs, along with the challenges that come with managing such a large event.

“The app created for us at PayPal’s Opportunity Hack 2.0 streamlines the registration and payment processes, saving us countless hours, and protects both staff and volunteers by reducing cash handling. It will also help us adhere to tightening data protection legislation and maintain transparency, which is so important to us in remaining accountable to the many people who support us in doing our work. We are extremely grateful to the PayPal team for lending us their time and expertise for this project.”

Guy Thompson said: “Castleknock Hotel was honoured to be the partner hotel for PayPal’s Opportunity Hack 2.0 and the staff were delighted to host another hugely successful event. As President of the Fingal Dublin Chamber of Commerce, we strongly encourage CSR initiatives amongst our members and PayPal is leading the way, providing much needed expertise, support, enthusiasm and a genuine passion for helping the community.”