Past Events

Join Us for the January Edition of Aspiration's Social Media Sewing Circle!

Event Date(s): 
January 8, 2010

If you are interested in being more effective with your use of social media in 2010, this event is a great way to start off the year with momentum.

The seminar is entitled "Building Your Own Social Media Dashboard", and will be held on

Friday, January 8th from 2pm to 3:30pm

The goal of the workshop is to help nonprofit staff learn both about social media as well as how they can track the impact and reach of their messaging.

This hands-on, learner-driven event will allow participants to set up their own "listening dashboard" where they can track the impact of their online communication efforts (web, Facebook, Twitter, and more), while also tracking issues pertinent to their organization, all with a single free online tool. Participants will use the NetVibes platform to create their dashboards.

The workshop is designed for those starting out in social media as well as those who have established a social media presence but don't know how to start assessing the reach of their messages and the online activity around their programmatic issue areas.

Because the workshop will be participant-driven, we'll encourage discussion amongst the group, so bring your stories, questions and frustrations and we'll see if we can sift out some answers and solutions.

The seminar will take place at the

San Francisco Nonprofit Technology Center
1370 Mission St, 4th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
See Map

This is a free and open event, but space is limited, so please RSVP to

2009 Nonprofit Software Development Summit

Event Date(s): 
November 18, 2009 to November 20, 2009

The 2009 Nonprofit Software Development Summit was the third annual convening of people and organizations developing software tools, web applications and other technology to support social justice causes. Bringing together a diverse range of users, developers, technologists, managers, eRiders, integrators and other practitioners who self-identify under the umbrella of “developing nonprofit software”, the 2009 DevSummit provided an opportunity both to gather as a community and to take stock of the field, while building connections and capacity.

You can check out the Agenda and session notes on the event wiki. Also, check out event pictures and tweets from the event.

The event targeted a range of audiences, including users who know what they still need developed, developers writing code to support nonprofit needs, integrators deploying tools for nonprofit and social justice organizations, and individuals who just care about seeing better technology developed to address the broad range of issues we face as a global community.

Feel free to join the Event Mailing List to participate in discussions about nonprofit software development.

Twitter hashtags: #devsummit, #aspirationtech



Goals of the Dev Summit

The Dev Summit had as its primary goals the following:

  • To convene and strengthen connections between the networks of stakeholders in the nonprofit software ecosystem, providing a fun and creative environment for celebrating successes and leadership in the field.
  • To share skills and knowledge in a highly collaborative, peer-to-peer fashion.
  • To map and discuss what is available and what is missing across the nonprofit software landscape in specific software “verticals”, and to posit solutions for addressing the gaps.
  • To offer a point of entry for software developers interested in offering their skills to nonprofit sector.

Participant-Driven Agenda!

The agenda took a concrete and hands-on approach to topics and challenges, focusing on transferring skills and process knowledge in interactive and fun ways. Panels and slideware were in short supply as with any Aspiration event, supplanted by participant-driven collaborations and small-group formats.

And as with all Aspiration events, the agenda was extremely participant-driven, developed in collaboration with participants and session facilitators in the time leading up to and during the Summit.

We thank everyone who helped to make this and past Nonprofit Software Development Summits a huge success, and we look forward to hosting the next!

Aspiration Co-Organizes and Facilitates Asia Source III

Event Date(s): 
November 7, 2009 to November 12, 2009

Aspiration traveled to the Philippines to co-organize Asia Source 3 (AS3). The event was a six-day hands-on workshop aimed at building the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) technical skills of those working with NGOs in South and South East Asia. It took place at Silang, Cavite, Philippines from November 7th to 12th, 2009.

The event was co-organized in partnership with The International Open Source Network (IOSN) ASEAN+3, Centre for Internet and Society, and Tactical Technology Collective, with support from Mozilla Foundation, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, InWEnt Capacity Building International, ASEAN Foundation, and Open Society Institute Information Program.

AS3 was the third event of the Asia Source camp series. Asia Source I was held in Bangalore, India in 2005 and Asia Source II in Sukabumi, Indonesia in 2007. The 6-day collaborative event was held on the lush greens and in the quiet cool environs of the Yen Center, home to the Headquarters and Regional Center for Asia of the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR), and located in Silang, a landlocked municipality south of Metro Manila, within the historic Province of Cavite.

In the tradition of previous camps, Asia Source 3 brought in participants from across Asia, who shared the common goal of pursuing FOSS advocacy and its promotion and use among non-profit organizations, small-to-medium enterprises and youth networks. The primary objective of the event was to act as a focal point in increasing the practical uptake of F/OSS desktop and tools amongst the voluntary sector in South and South East Asia.

Aspiration Facilitates Plone Video Sprint

Event Date(s): 
October 31, 2009 to November 3, 2009

Aspiration was delighted to partner with EngageMedia and Plone4Artists to run the Plone Video Sprint at this year's Plone Conference in Budapest, Hungary. The 4-day sprint convened about 20 developers to collaborate on open video technologies on the Plone Content Management System (CMS).

Aspiration led the facilitation to help the group focus on priorities. Those include building a shared road map for video on Plone, working on key technical needs such as large file handling, transcoding and BitTorrent support, improving support for FOSS video codecs, publishing and viewing content with mobile devices, bug fixing existing video related Plone collective products and improving documentation.

The Plone Video Sprint was supported by the generosity of the Open Society Institute.

As Engage Media points points out, online video has exploded in recent years, being a major source of the “web 2.0” boom. YouTube, YAHOO Video and other video sharing spaces have been celebrated for making major advances in facilitating citizen media. Despite their success, however, there are many limitations to these proprietary platforms, such as YouTube’s limit on video size, its frequent censorship, the difficulty in downloading videos, the low quality of the flash video employed, and terms of use that allow YouTube to do nearly anything with posted video content.

The ability to host and manage your own content using free, libre and open source (FLOSS) tools is essential for independent media organizations and non-profits.

The aims for the sprint are the following:

  • Increased communication and collaboration between Python, Zope and Plone developers working in the area of open video technologies.
  • Direct improvement of key video technologies and the video feature set available in the Plone CMS so as to increase uptake and improve those sites already implementing Plone video technologies.
  • Improved the ease of use, install and set up of Plumi via technical and documentation enhancements, opening it up to a broader set of users and contributors.
  • Increased skill set among sprint participants regarding how to implement and develop with the Plumi CMS and for video technologies more generally in the Plone CMS.
  • Increase the community of developers working on Plone and video and their effectiveness.

The organizers hope to follow up related work from around the FLOSS video scene – such as network, Plone4Artists, the recent Open Video Conference in NYC, the annual set of FOMS conferences, and the free documentation work of FLOSSManuals.

An additional aim was to contribute to constructing online spaces where independent media networks can flourish in an open, accessible and transparent way. EngageMedia will continue work on Plumi, their Plone-based video CMS, as a FLOSS tool for local communities and activists to use as a democratic online video sharing space.

Aspiration Co-Designs and Directs 'Innovation on the Lake' in Italy

Event Date(s): 
October 23, 2009 to October 25, 2009

Aspiration was honored and delighted to co-organize Innovation on the Lake, in partnership with Common Ground. The event brought together a group of 15 Ashoka Fellows along with experienced practitioners in social media and technological innovation for an interactive weekend on Lake Como. The three-day gathering was generously supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and took place at their Bellagio Center in Northern Italy.

The goal of the event was to help Ashoka grantees explore how they might apply social media strategies and tactics to support their respective projects in Africa, Asia, India, South America and the US, working on issues including human trafficking, climate change, rural development, government corruption, micro-lending and homelessness. The focus was on generating ideas and solutions to the specific problems that each of the attending Fellows work on and how their social change work can be accelerated with the use of innovative communications technologies. Each participant was invited to consider innovative ways in which to design and introduce network production models (aka "crowdsourcing") into their programmatic work.

A team of experienced social media practitioners facilitated sessions on a range of topics. The team gave generously of their time and passions in service to the Fellows, and included:

The agenda was collaboratively designed by the participants and facilitators using Aspiration’s participatory event methodology.

Bellagio was a beautiful event venue, and meetings there have generated important social policy ideas for 60 years. Rockefeller generously provided the resources necessary to convene a productive and transformative event.

Ashoka is an international network of social innovators. Fellows are vetted through an exhaustive process designed to validate the scalability of their innovations. Each of the Fellows in attendance had been nominated by Ashoka as either already using interactive media tools as the platform for their social innovation, or eager to explore the potential of these tools for their work.

Aspiration thanks Rosanne Haggerty at Common Ground for inviting us into such a fruitful and collaborative project, and we hope to create similar events in the future.

Aspiration Facilitates Regenstrief Institute Annual Conference on Open Health Methodologies

Event Date(s): 
September 23, 2009 to September 25, 2009

Aspiration was grateful to be invited to facilitate the Eleventh Biennial Regenstrief Conference in French Lick, Indiana.

The event focused on Open Health Methodologies, and invited participants to challenge the old paradigms in health methodologies, and to create the tools and and processes to engage in open collaboration.

Regenstrief Institute is also home to one of Aspiration's favorite open source software projects OpenMRS. The project is a fountain of open source best practices, and the platform itself is making a profound difference in healthcare in Africa and around the globe.

The agenda was collaboratively designed by Aspiration and the Regenstrief organizers, and proceedings were captured on the event wiki.

We are inspired by all the great work and vision that Regenstrief Institute is investing in open health methodologies, and we look forward to future collaborations.

Grab a Seat at the Social Media Sewing Circle

Event Date(s): 
September 15, 2009

Join us for hands-on learner-driven Social Media lessons

As part of Mozilla Service Week, Aspiration and the San Francisco Nonprofit Technology Center will be hosting an afternoon of open learning labs we're calling the Social Media Sewing Circle.

The goal is to help nonprofit staff both learn about social media, and just as importantly, learn how to track and assess the impact of their social media efforts.

This hands-on event will enable participants to explore:

  • Social Media Tracking: How to assess the reach and impact of your social media efforts
  • Publishing strategies for social media channels: how to make it all make sense together
  • Facebook and Twitter essentials, including setup, core skills, etiquette, and best practices
  • Beginning and advanced blogging skills, including basic concepts, blog setup, publicity strategies, and search engine optimization
  • Any questions you have about the relevance of social media in your work

The Social Media Sewing Circle will take place on

Tuesday, September 15th from 1pm to 4pm

at the

San Francisco Nonprofit Technology Center
1370 Mission Street, 4th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

This is a free and open event, but space is limited, so please RSVP to

We invite anyone who's curious about enhancing their social media skills and knowledge to join us for this hands-on learning event.

Managing Nonprofit Technology Projects - Washington DC

Event Date(s): 
July 22, 2009 to July 23, 2009

Aspiration and Community IT Innovators (CITI) hosted the third Nonprofit Technology Project Management event in Washington DC on the 22nd and 23rd of July.

Managing Nonprofit Technology Projects DC examined the tools and best practices that help nonprofits deliver successful technology solutions - whether it be websites, packaged software implementations, or custom applications.

You can check out the event agenda and the list of excellent facilitators. As with all Aspiration events, participants were encouraged to add sessions to the agenda. Also see press coverage from Projects at Work.

Interactive sessions and demos allowed participants to compare processes, tools, successes, and lessons learned. Discussion topics included team collaboration, project planning, software selection, migration, and project rollout, and mapping out software tools – from project management packages to collaborative communication to issue tracking and more – that support successful technology projects.

Feel free to join the MNTP discussion list, which we use to discuss MNTP-related topics.

Aspiration’s skill in facilitating practitioner knowledge combined with CITI's experience in managing nonprofit technology projects contributed to an informal, collaborative, and information-rich event.

What Are They Saying?

The feedback from our previous MNTP events was roundly enthusiastic. Just a few of the comments from participants:

  • "The event was very energizing, and renewed my enthusiasm for tackling some complex issues"
  • "This gathering will inform everything I do in IT from here on."
  • "I used to be super intimidated - now I feel more empowered about what I do know and how to find answers to what I don't"
  • "It was a fun, casual, open, responsive learning environment for non-techies"
  • "I learned that I'm not alone, and I can learn from a rich community of people facing similar challenges"
  • "I was impressed with all that happened - it was amazing"

What are the Goals?

MNTP DC had three primary goals:

  • To strengthen the community of practice among those who identify themselves as nonprofit technology project managers
  • To enhance the knowledge and capacity of technology project managers within a rich, sharing environment
  • To map out the range of tools and best practices being employed in nonprofit technology project management

Participants exchanged project management tools and techniques that they can apply to the management of many projects, and discuss project management processes – from project initiation to project planning, project execution, monitoring and control, to project closure – in the context of stories and experiences. Participants inventoried resources and best practices for nonprofit IT project management, ranging from templates to trainings, and shared useful software packages as they are used in actual nonprofits.

Significant time was spent discussing appropriate practices and processes for defining requirements in nonprofit software projects to inform the "build, buy, or rent" decisions that vex nonprofit technology managers on a regular basis.

Who Came?

MNTP DC was focused on the growing community of nonprofit technology project managers, aiming to provide support to those practicing as project managers, while also recruiting and offering support to those new to (or bewildered by) this craft, and creating a space for the “accidental project managers” to share their stories, discover their allies, and grow into more “intentional” project managers. A significant part of the event was built around mentoring relationships; experienced individuals with knowledge and stories to share collaborated with participants who wanted to learn more.

Participants were encouraged to bring real-world projects to MNTP, and vet them with some real-time project management, coaching, and assessment.

What was on the Agenda?

The agenda was designed specifically to ensure participants interact with and learn from each other, while also providing solid grounding in essential topics. The following workshops were included in the proceedings:

  • Nonprofit Technology Project Management 101: For those who self-identify as new to the discipline, this session provided an overview of nonprofit technology project management. Essential topics, truths, and tools were presented, with the second half of the session employing a question-driven format.
  • Anatomy of a Well-Managed Technology Project: Drawing from case studies good, bad and ugly, this session focused on key aspects of successful project management. The primary take-away was guidelines on how project managers can maintain control of their projects.
  • Designing and Redesigning Web Sites: Any nonprofit that has published a web site understands the frustrating nature of the process. This session considered how best to take on the task of casting organizational identity on the web while also serving target audiences and delivering value to web visitors accordingly.
  • What Should a Web Site Cost? One of the most vexing questions in any project is “what are appropriate costs for technology and labor?” This session utilized anecdotal data and participant input to explore costing for different types of web sites, from simple “brochure-ware” sites to custom, database-backed applications and points in between.
  • Mapping Communication Tools to Tasks: There are a range of ways to collaborate with partners and stakeholders in any project. But which tools work best for which types of collaboration? This session will sort out appropriate times to employ email, instant messaging and chat, wikis, phone calls, file sharing, forums and other tools.
  • Using Wikis for Effective Collaboration: Over the past several years, wikis have demonstrated their value as a key tool in certain project management processes. This session mapped out best practices and techniques for successfully utilizing wiki technology for project collaboration. Also discussed was when not to use wikis, and when more structured information sharing tools are advisable.
  • Managing Nonprofit Software Development Projects: While a best practice for nonprofits technologists is to try and utilize existing tools and services, there are invariably times when the appropriate tools and applications don’t exist. But software development is not a core competency of most nonprofits, and too often nonprofit software development efforts spiral out of control or end in less-than-complete realization of vision. This session will explore how best to get from concept to running code with out losing focus on mission.
  • Managing Consultants and Dealing with Vendors: This peer sharing workshop invited participants to compare their processes and tactics for managing critical project relationships that fall outside of organizational boundaries.
  • Horrific Tales of Miserable Project Management Failure: Nothing is more instructive than the mistakes of others. Participants will be invited to swap stories and cautionary tales of the many speed bumps, pot holes, and multi-vehicles pile-ups on the road to project management success.
  • A Whirlwind Discussion of Project Management Software Utilities: This fast-paced session allowed participants to share the various project management utilities available, including time tracking, task management, source code control, and more.
  • Software Share: Basecamp, MS Project, DreamTeam and more – Nonprofit practitioners provided a variety of 10-15 minute software demos to allow participants to see the packages in real-life situations and compare the strengths and weaknesses.

Want more information?

Contact us at

Open Translation Tools 2009

Event Date(s): 
June 22, 2009 to June 24, 2009

Aspiration was delighted to organize Open Translation Tools 2009 (OTT09), in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, from 22-24 June, 2009. The event was followed by an Open Translation "Book Sprint" which produced a first-of-its-kind volume on tools and best practices in the field of Open Translation, "Open Translation Tools".

Also see blog coverage from participants, including Ethan Zuckerman (OTT09 and Book Sprint), David Sasaki, TAUS, Engage Media, and Philippe Lacour.

Both events were co-organized in partnership with and, and generously supported by the Open Society Institute and the Ford Foundation.

Agenda partners for the event included Creative Commons, Global Voices Online, WorldWide Lexicon, Meedan, and DotSUB.

OTT09 built upon the work and collaboration from Open Translation Tools 2007 (OTT07; see paper, video, and toolbox). The event convened stakeholders in the field of open content translation to assess the state of software tools that support translation of content that is licensed under free or open content licenses such as Creative Commons or Free Document License. The event served to map out what’s available, what’s missing, who’s doing what, and to recommend strategic next steps to address those needs, with a particular focus on delivering value to open education, open knowledge, and human rights blogging communities.

Primary focus was placed on supporting and enabling distributed human translation of content, but the role of machine translation was also considered. “Open content” encompassed a range of resource types, from educational materials to books to manuals to documents to blog content to video and multimedia.

The agenda goals of the 2009 event were several:

  • Address the Translation Challenges Faced by the Open Education, Open Content, and human rights blogging communities, and mapping requirements to available open solutions.
  • Build on the vision and exploring new use cases for the Global Voices Lingua Translation Exchange
  • Document the state of the art in distributed human translation, and discussing how to further tap the tremendous translation potential of the net
  • Make tools talk better: realizing a standards-driven approach to open translation
  • Explore and sketch out Open Translation API Designs, building on existing work and models
  • Document workflow requirements for missing open translation tools
  • Match-make between open source tools and open content projects
  • Map of available tools to open translation use cases

See the Agenda Overview for elaboration and more details about what transpired.

Most importantly, the agenda centered on the needs and knowledge of the participating projects, structuring sessions and collaborations to focus on designing appropriate processes and selecting appropriate tools to support open content projects and inform further development of open source translation tools.

In addition, OTT09 continued the knowledge sharing for the open translation community, and continue discussion on other identified needs from OTT07. The agenda for this event was greatly informed by open education, open content and human rights blogging projects with specific translation needs, and a number of sessions were structured to both characterize requirements and propose solutions to respective projects' translation requirements.

OTT07 mapped out a hefty list of Open Translation Tools. Participants at OTT09 surveyed what has change over the past 18 months, and assessed the most pressing remaining gaps.

See OTT09 Accommodations Information for a list of hotels and other resources near the venue.

For more information, email or call +1.415.839.6456.

Penguin Day San Francisco

Event Date(s): 
April 25, 2009

Penguin Day San Francisco brought together participants to share knowledge and discuss the state of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in nonprofit organizations, in a festive and collaborative environment designed to answer questions and curiosities. PD SF took place Saturday, April 25th, at Odd Fellows Hall.

Penguin Day San Francisco was generously sponsored by Google.

You can check out the agenda; sessions included:

  • Introduction to Free and Open Source Software
  • Introduction to Free and Open Source Desktop Applications
  • Introduction to Linux
  • Publishing on the Web: Making sense of Free and Open Source Content Management Systems
  • Introduction to Blogging
  • Intro and Advanced sessions on Joomla! and Drupal
  • Managing Organizational Contacts—Intro to CiviCRM 2.0
  • CiviCRM 2.0 - Advanced Topics
  • Increasing Access with Community Broadband
  • Learnings from Summers of Code
  • Mobile Volunteering: The ExtraOrdinaries Project
  • Healthy and Sustainable Free and Open Source Communities
  • Helping Techies and Non-Techies Communicate and Cooperate
  • Free And Open Source Online Advocacy: Tools And Best Practices
  • Creative Commons And Open Content
  • Free and Open Source Firewalls

Penguin Day San Francisco was organized by Aspiration, NOSI, PICnet, and CiviCRM.

What in the world is a Penguin Day?

Are you passionate or curious about the reality, the potential and the role of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in nonprofit organizations? Do you want to learn about latest free and open web publishing tools and technologies? Would you like to meet other like-minded and passionate participants, including developers, activists, and nonprofit "techies"?

Penguin Day New Orleans will bring together nonprofit technology staff with free and open source software (FOSS) developers for a day of learning and conversation.

We'll explore and explain open source for nonprofits, frankly address the challenges of developing open source tools for nonprofits, and celebrate strengths and successes of open source in the nonprofit sector. Leading open source innovators in the nonprofit sector will share their stories and knowledge, and focus on answering your questions!

If you are curious about open source software for your nonprofit organization, Penguin Days are for you!

Who is organizing Penguin Day in San Francisco?

Penguin Day San Francisco is being made possible with the help of Aspiration, NOSI, PICnet, CiviCRM, Chicago Technology Cooperative, local partners and YOU!

What will I take away from Penguin Day?

Penguin Day features a packed agenda of interactive workshops, round tables, and "SpeedGeeks." Topics include:

  • Introduction to Free and Open Source Software for Nonprofits
  • Local resources and who’s-who in the Free/Open Source community
  • Helping techies and non-techies communicate
  • Overview of Free and Open Source desktop applications
  • e-Advocacy platforms
  • Making sense of Free and Open Source Content Management Systems
  • Healthy and Sustainable Free and Open Source Communities
  • How Users Can Influence FOSS Development
  • Business Models for FOSS developers and providers
  • Content Management System (CMS) Crash Courses -- Plone, Joomla, and Drupal
  • Creative Commons and Open Content
  • SpeedGeeking (a lively tour of projects and tools)

What Are Others Saying About Penguin Days?

"I had a wonderful time at Penguin Day. It was one of the best IT related conferences I've been to. I'm definitely in a position to help my current and future non-profits with MUCH needed tools. I thank y'all on their behalf. Keep up the good work and positive energy." - Steve Garrison,

"Penguin Day was great - I had an excellent day - made new friends, put a lot of faces to email addresses, had a whole load of fun - and got introduced to some new applications and distributions! Thanks again to everyone who organised the day, ran sessions etc - it made my 4,500 mile trip worthwhile!" - Ian, from London, UK

"Penguin Days are a fantastic opportunity to get together with a wide variety of people and understand more about the issues that surround open source. Unlike a lot of conference/gatherings, the emphasis in these is on meeting people and making connections that you carry out of them room. And that works." - Marnie from San Francisco

"Now on to Penguin Day… Wow. For my part I was impressed by the international scope of the audience, folks from Great Britain, Canada, Kenya, Turkey, Ghana, Chicago and all points in between. The energy was great and the range of topics on the agenda meant there was something for everyone….suffice it to say Penguin Day set the mark against which all other events will be measured in my mind." - John from Chicago


Since 2004, Penguin Days have been held in Philadelphia, Portland, Oregon; London, England; Toronto, Canada, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Texas and Seattle.

Hundreds of nonprofit staff, programmers, and activists have attended Penguin Days. Penguin Days feature humorous "SpeedGeeking" sessions (playfully modeled after speed-dating) to bring programmers and organizations together to learn more about each other and free and open source software.

The Penguin is the symbol adopted in the early days of Linux as the mascot of this growing software movement.

To register for an upcoming Penguin Day, go to

About Aspiration: Aspiration, connects nonprofit organizations with software solutions that help them better carry out their work. We want nonprofit organizations to obtain and use the best software to maximize their effectiveness and impact so that they, in turn, can change the world. We identify what is available and what is missing in NGO software arena, and foster relationships, delivery systems, and sustainability strategies between NGOs around the world.

About PICnet: PICnet, empowers the missions of non-profits through the use of unique open source software solutions. PICnet moves beyond the nuts and bolts of technology, rising to find new and effective ways to assist organizations in meeting their goals.

About NOSI: NOSI was formed with three goals: to facilitate and encourage the use of free and open source software in the nonprofit sector, to bring nonprofit organizations together with free and open source developers and projects in ways that both can benefit, and to promote the understanding of the ways in which the fundamental values of each are similar.


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