Our 2023 Year in Review

Published on Feb 14, 2024 by Sean Watland, Derek Eder, and Michael Chladek

Ahead of our fifth annual Member Meeting and Board Elections on Feb 13, 2024, we’re publishing our 2023 year in review to share with our Members and our community (that’s you!).

As we look ahead to 2024, we also look back at what we did in 2023. Here we go …

For those newer to Chi Hack Night, this is the ninth “year in review” that we have done. Take a look at our year-in-review posts from 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014 to follow along how we got here.

In that tradition, here are the high-level statistics for Chi Hack Night in 2023:

Presentations Breakdown

Below is every presentation from 2023, organized by topic. You can also watch all 35 of them in one YouTube playlist.

All 35 Chi Hack Night presentations from 2023
All 35 Chi Hack Night presentations from 2023

Presentations by category


Climate change and environment



Community and Civic Tech


Equity and Access

Public Health

List of organizations represented

In these presentations, we heard from individuals from an array of organization types, including local government, journalism, academia, nonprofits, and business:


  • Chicago Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Rights
  • Cook County Assessor’s Office
  • Cook County President’s Office
  • National Weather Service
  • United States Digital Service


  • DePaul University
  • Discovery Partners Institute
  • Northwestern University
  • University of Chicago Medicine
  • University of Illinois Chicago
  • Western Illinois University


  • Block Club
  • Chicago Independent Media Alliance
  • Chicago Reader
  • City Bureau
  • Illinois Answers
  • ProPublica
  • StateScoop
  • The Harvey World Herald
  • WBEZ-Chicago


  • A Just Harvest
  • Center for Neighborhood Technology
  • Chicago Botanic Garden
  • Open States
  • Math Circles of Chicago
  • Native Land Digital
  • New America
  • Obama Foundation
  • Sinai Chicago
  • VotingWorks


  • Equiticity
  • Friends of the Chicago River


  • AirGo
  • EX3 Labs
  • Plural
  • Jarvus Innovations


Chi Hack Night continues to remain financially stable and is in a good position to continue covering our remote as well as hybrid remote/in-person events well into 2024. Expenses remained substantially lower than they were pre-pandemic, although we did have higher legal and licensing/registration expenses in 2023 as we worked with our lawyer to resolve an error in our registration with the Illinois Attorney General’s office.

In 2023, we received donations from several individuals throughout the year (thank you to those who donated, especially those contributing on a monthly basis!). We also continued to see organizations providing sponsorship donations to Chi Hack Night (thank you, Chicago Cityscape and DataMade!).

In-person events remained the main expense for 2023, which included professionally recording and editing the in-person presentations as well as providing food, snacks, and supplies at such events. We also saw presenters continuing to take advantage of Chi Hack Night’s honorarium for speakers.

Cash on Hand Beginning of 2023

$ 28,630.03

Individual Donations


Membership Fees


Sponsorship Donations


Total Income

$ 9,975.00

Advertising & Marketing


Event Supplies


Food for In-Person Chi Hack Night


Legal & Professional Services


Office Supplies & Software


PayPal Fees


Speaker Honorarium


Taxes & Licenses


Total Expenses

$ 21,991.64

Net Operating Income

$ –12,016.64

Cash on Hand End of 2023

$ 16,613.39

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)

For our 4th year, the Board has been using OKRs to prioritize what we’ve determined to be areas to focus our efforts to improve our event & build our community. Below, we will recap how we are doing halfway into our 2023 - 24 OKRs.

Progress Key

Whether we will achieve this by June 30, 2024

ON TRACK we will likely achieve this key result
IN PROGRESS we can still achieve this key result, but it will take some extra effort
NOT ON TRACK we will likely not achieve this key result

Objective 1 - Run the event

Produce a live, weekly civic engagement event that meaningfully includes diverse speakers and attendees

ON TRACK Key Result 1.1: Create a biannual survey for Chi Hack Night community asking people about belonging / welcomingness of events & quality and representativeness of presenters

ON TRACK Key Result 1.2: Book at least three presentations from each of the following groups: government, journalism, academia, nonprofit, and advocacy

ON TRACK Key Result 1.3: 65% or higher response rate from presenters on our demographic survey

Objective 2 - Sustain the event

Build & maintain a sustainable infrastructure for weekly operations engaging volunteers and expanding our organization’s capacity

NOT ON TRACK Key Result 2.1: 20% of volunteer roles available are filled by members (either current or future members)

ON TRACK Key Result 2.2: Have 4 non Hack Night Meetings (1 member meeting and 3 social events)

IN PROGRESS Key Result 2.3: 70% of members are satisfied with our membership requirements

Objective 3 - Promote the event

Promote and share Chi Hack Night presentations, events, and projects to a wider audience

IN PROGRESS Key Result 3.1: Grow number of monthly sessions on our website year over year by 5%

IN PROGRESS Key Result 3.2: Grow hours watched on YouTube by 5%

ON TRACK Key Result 3.3: Grow LinkedIn followers by 10%

Introducing … Chi Hack Night KPIs!

We love data, right? So why wouldn’t we love data about Chi Hack Night?

New to this year, we introduced monitoring around our KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) - meaning the data points we have decided are crucial to understand the health of Chi Hack Night.

These are things like…

  • Zoom Post-Presentation Attendance
  • In Person Attendance
  • YouTube Livestream Viewers
  • YouTube Hours Watched
  • Website Views
  • LinkedIn Follower Growth

Each board meeting, we’ve spent a few minutes reviewing the latest data & how it relates to our past performance.

Unfortunately, we are either seeing no change - or in some cases - a downward trend in some of our key metrics such as…

Zoom Post-Presentation Attendance

Post-livestream attendance in 2023
Post-livestream attendance in 2023 has been consistently averaging around 20 attendees a night

YouTube - Hours Watched by Month (including Livestream)

YouTube Hours Watched in 2023 by Month
YouTube Hours Watched in 2023 by Month has been steadily trending downwards

In short, it’s evident to the Board that we are not doing enough to grow our event. Outside of our LinkedIn followers, we have no metric that represents growth for Chi Hack Night. It is certainly something that we will continue to monitor as a board & adjust our plans to get these metrics trending upwards.

Thus concludes our 2023 recap. Thanks for reading it. Here’s to a great 2024 for Chicago’s civic tech community! See you Tuesday!

About the author

Sean Watland, Derek Eder, and Michael Chladek

Sean Watland, Derek Eder, and Michael Chladek