For Charities, Web Development is Free at Marmelab

François Zaninotto
François ZaninottoNovember 21, 2016

We all need a sense of purpose in what we do. We choose to give some of our time and expertise to charity. Read on to understand why, and how to apply.


Every year, marmelab will select one or two charity web or mobile development projects, and donate our time and expertise to develop the related app. The development will be completely free for the charity non-profit organization. We won't make a difference with commercial projects in terms of professionalism or quality. We'll dedicate about 80 men.days per year to that purpose.


We are an innovation workshop, and we develop digital products for our customers using a startup-as-a-service approach: 2 weeks' iterations, customer-centric design, metrics-based decision making, and quality code. We use Lean Startup, SCRUM, unit testing, ES6, React, Node.js, d3.js, AWS, PostgreSQL, Elastic Search, etc. We are pragmatic geeks. We love our job.

We look for non-profit organizations with a thrilling project. The project must bring tangible improvements to those who need it the most. It must be uncertain (to take advantage of our risk-based approach). It must depend on a tech innovation (AI, the blockchain, bots, dataviz, realtime, big data crunching, offline-first, you name it). It must be hard (don't ask us to setup a CMS).


Marmelab already dedicates about 15% of its development force to R&D projects. Every month, we take a day off from our customer projects to test & learn new methodologies and libraries. Newcomers start by 5 weeks of training on new technologies. After about 18 month of customer project, every developer takes a month off to invest more deeply into opportunities we've detected, and put technology in application.

This is necessary to attract and keep good developers. What we lose in income, we earn in expertise and loyalty. Developers feel that they are trusted, that they can grow with us. They stay longer, they tell their friends to come and join them. Continuous improvement of our tech expertise allows us to apply for very challenging projects that motivate our collaborators. That's how we get the best developers to come and work for us.

This costs us, but not as much as you may think. Some of our R&D is covered by tax discounts. But you know what also brings tax discounts? Giving to charity. It's not as profitable, but who said we were doing this for profit?

Beyond great teams and great tech, we need a sense of purpose in our jobs. Most of the products we work on tend to transform our society. It's great and we love it. But beyond disrupting a sector with digital technologies, there is nothing better than helping the ones who really need it.

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Apply at

Send us an email with a description of who you are, what you do, and what your project is about. Try to estimate the workload, perimeter, constraints, and to identify the tech challenges. Make it fun to read.

We'll Meet End Users in Person

We always meet end users in person. It's important for us in terms of UX. We follow a customer-centric approach, and it can only work if we deeply understand the product users. It's important for us in terms of purpose: beyond an association, we really want to help people.

So whether it's about bringing Internet connectivity to Madagascar fishermen, or helping young Indian girls get access to education, we expect to meet your end users in person - and we'll ask you to pay for the travel expenses.

We'll Choose the Tech Stack

Be prepared for cutting-edge technology, because we want to keep on learning all the time. We see your project as an opportunity for our engineers to do R&D, but on real use cases.

We'll Work from Our Offices

The marmelab engineers need proximity with their coworkers to get quick answers to tech questions, a great work environment, and no commute time. But we will talk every morning for 5 minutes using videoconferencing, chat all day long via Slack, give you access to the application and code in real time, and meet you in person every other week. We've been doing remote work for the past 4 years, and we're pretty confident that our tooling and methodology properly compensates for the distance.

We'll Give Away The Code

We don't want intellectual property of the code we'll develop for you. And we love sharing our knowledge with our fellow developers (see our GitHub account for an overview of our open-source contributions). So we'll give away the code and publish it with a liberal open-source license (MIT). If you're not comfortable with your code being public, don't apply.

We'll Communicate About It

Your project mustn't be top secret, because we always do open innovation. We publish articles about our side projects (in this very blog). We intend to talk about our charity projects, too. We hope that it can help us attract new engineers. Consider this as our reward for the time we dedicate to your cause.

Don't Be In A Hurry

Business comes first - we have bills to pay. So if you have a 3 months' deadline, we won't be able to help you.

Also, the time we usually dedicate to R&D serves as a breathing period for collaborators who run all the time (we do agile sprints all year). We want our charity work to be a stress-free experience.

Be prepared for an intermittent collaboration: intense 2 week iterations separated by complete silence for a month or two. But rest assured: we'll commit to finishing your project within a year.

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How we'll choose

The entire marmelab team will gather and vote on the 5 projects they like the most twice a year. We'll meet the 5 short listed charities in person, and select one. We'll choose projects with a great cause. We'll choose projects we are confident we can build. We'll choose projects with a genuine impact. We'll choose charities we can trust and who trust us. We'll choose people who are fun to work with.

Apply Now

If you are a NGO, send us an email. If you know an NGO who could use our help, send them a link to this post. If you want to support us, share the link.

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