Power to the Edges: Trends and Opportunities in Online Civic Engagement

Power to the Edges: Trends and Opportunities in Online Civic Engagement -

This report from the affinity group PACE - Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement is a snapshot of the current state of online democracy in the age of connectivity brought about by the Internet and other digital information technologies.

The implications of online democracy for nonprofit organizations are significant and challenging. The report authors urge nonprofits and the funders who support them to become more nimble, integrate online and offline activities, leverage and strengthen activists networks and brandish a new set of leadership skills that are facilitative and inclusive.

FLOSS and NGOs: A Compilation of Resources and Community Events

Link: Non-Profit Use of Open Source | Doc Searls' IT Garage.

Taran mentions the NOSI Open Source Primer, written by Michelle Murrain, Aspiration's board member. There has been a plethora of resources lately on free and open source software (f/oss) and NGOs; a brief compilation of the most noteworthy is below. There are also a number of organizations, both here and internationally, that are beginning to form a lively ecosystem of development, support, and community for f/oss and NGOs. These include certainly NOSI, Tactical Tech, us here at Aspiration, the LINC Project,,, Commons Group and Community Bandwidth.

Here are some of the noteworthy resources on f/oss that we have been involved in or that have come across my radar.

Several are compiled here at what is the very beginning of an Open Source Almanac that first saw the day at the Advocacy Developer Convergence. It needs some love soon.

Phillip Smith, our colleague in Toronto at Community Bandwidth has released a very interesting article called "What Not-for-Profit Organizations Need to Know about Free Software.

Mark Surman started it all with the The Commons Group's Choosing Open Source: A Guide for Civil Society Organizations. Developed by Commons and the APC, this guide provides civil society organizations with both an introduction to open source and a framework for finding software that will meet their needs. Designed to be accessible and helpful to non-profit managers and others responsible for high level technology decisions.


p>There is, of course, the NOSI Guide, as aforementioned. The Nonprofit Open Source Initiative's (NOSI) Choosing and Using Open Source Software: A Primer for Nonprofits describes what open source software is and what impact this type of software may have on the nonprofit sector.

It includes:

Non-Profit Innovation Alliance

There has been quite a bit of buzz about the newly-formed Non-Profit Innovation Alliance (NIA).

The NIA is a "cross-licensing group comprised of firms that provide technologies that help nonprofits--as well as political campaigns--send email fundraising campaigns, aggregate member contact information, manage website content and the like," according to Kate Kaye, a journalist and writer for Personal Democracy.

Software Freedom Law Center to offer legal support to nonprofit open source projects

This just announced:

Eben Moglen, chief legal counsel of the Free Software Foundation and law professor at Columbia, will head a newly established law center to provide legal counsel to nonprofit open source projects.

From the press release of the Software Freedom Law Center:

"February 1, 2005 – Columbia University Law Professor Eben Moglen today announced the formation of the Software Freedom Law Center, whose mission is to provide pro-bono legal services globally to eligible non-profit open source software projects and developers.

Asia Source Blog

Asia Source is getting underway in Bangalore and so is the blog, written mainly by Frederick Noronha. Lots of good thinking on free and open source software for NGOs and a glimpse into what will be a vibrant and lively event for community building, tech innovation, and joy of exploration of the power of free software for changing the world.

Asia Source is a week-long skill and knowledge sharing convergence that is bringing together developers and NGOs to explore free and open source software for civil society.

Asia Source is co-hosted by Tactical Tech and and facilitated by Allen Gunn of Aspiration.

Penguin Day Toronto a Success

More than sixty nonprofit tech staff and open source programmers convened in Toronto on November 20th for the 4th Penguin Day worldwide. Penguin Day Toronto featured spirited discussion about how to bridge language and cultural gaps between open source developers and nonprofits, hands-on sessions on content management systems for organizations, real-life stories of nonprofits using open source tools, and another speed-geek -- a hilarious, fast-paced presentations of different software applications for non-profits.

The day resulted in tangible projects such a coalition of 'Penguin Doers' investigating building an open source client management application for social service organizations for intake and outcome measurement.

Check out the article


Subscribe to RSS - blogs