Nonprofit Software and Nonprofit Missions
Aspiration board member Michelle Murrain writes on her personal blog about Convio's recent decision to take on an anti-gay marriage organization as a client. She argues:
"I think it's perhaps time for many nonprofit organizations, and the progressive nonprofit community to think carefully about this issue. Few of us think that the ends always justifies the means. Some of us (me included) think that the means by which we work to achieve our mission, affects the mission, sometimes deeply.
I've been an advocate for the use of open source software in the nonprofit sector for a while now, for a variety of good reasons. One of which is that are a whole host of really good open source (in fact or in spirit) advocacy tools out there, home grown, with expertise around to help implement it. It is not necessary (nor necessarily cheaper or easier) to go with a service like Convio. There are good choices out there, ones that will help continue to build expertise and good code in our own community (rather than build good code that investors make money off of.)"
I believe that there are indeed lots of decent applications out there with more coming down the pike in a spirit of grassroots and user innovation. We are hosting AdvocacyDev II to explore and map this growing and vibrant field with developers and users to share knowledge and expertise, and to also honestly assess where there are shortcomings and gaps (and, speaking from very personal experience playing with a lots of apps -- there ARE gaps). While much, much farther advanced than even a year ago, we are still, in this field of open source NGO software, only partially on our way to 'Realizing the Promise of Open Source for the Nonprofit Sector,' in the words of another wise Aspiration board member. Hoever, it'll be great to see a year after AdvocacyDev I how much farther we have collectively traveled in this area in particular.