Sessions - 2012 Nonprofit Software Development Summit

Here is what's on the slate for the 2012 Dev Summit, with more sessions being added every week.

The Dev Summit is not just for techies! The agenda is designed to be relevant and inclusive for all nonprofit technology stakeholders, from new users to seasoned practitioners.

We welcome additional session proposals! Just email us!

And if you like what you see, you can Register Here! And please spread the word, hashtag #npdev!

Session Clusters

Nonprofit Software Essentials

The sessions are designed provide overview and context for all Dev Summit participants.

  • The State of Nonprofit Software in 2012
    Facilitated by Aspiration and Friends
    We'll kick the 2012 Dev Summit off with an interactive brainstorm that maps where we are in 2012 and what participants want to discuss. We'll provide the sticky notes, you drive the Sharpies.
  • Introduction to Nonprofit Software
    Facilitated by Misty Avila and Jessica Steimer, Aspiration
    This user-friendly session will explore core concepts in nonprofit technology, explaining acronyms like CRM, CMS, FOSS and RSS, as well as essential concepts in social media, privacy, and online identity.
  • What are the Missing Tools in 2012?
    Facilitated by Aspiration and friends
    Using an interactive brainstorm, participants will inventory and prioritize what is still not right about nonprofit software.

eAdvocacy and Online Organizing

The tools change but the game remains essentially the same: use the internet to educate, activate and mobilize movements while seizing moments. These sessions address the tech and tactics that support the same.

  • The State of Online Activism in 2012
    Facilitated by Stefanie Faucher, and David Taylor, Rainforest Action Network
    Buzz concepts come and go, but one thing remains clear in the internet era: the potential to educate, activate, and mobilize supporters is nowhere greater than online. David and Stefanie will assess the state of the field in this dialog-driven breakout session, and invite others to weigh in with their takes on tools for movements.
  • Occupy and Tech a Year Later - What Have We Learned?
    Facilitated by Occupy Activists at the Summit
    Occupy was a profound offline phenomenon, but online tools played an essential part in many aspects of the street-level movement. This session will invite Occupy participants to weigh in on tech lessons learned and where from here, both online and offline.
  • Making Memes - A Creative Design Dialog
    Facilitated by Suzi Grishpul, Radical Designs
    If we had a nickel for every time someone has declared they were designing a viral concept, the Dev Summit would be held in a remote eco-sustainable tropical paradise. Creating ideas that travel is hard, and in this session, Suzi will invite participants to talk about the types of ideas, campaigns and concepts they are most excited to receive and pass along.
  • Introduction to Web Analytics
    Faciliated by Jessica Steimer, Aspiration
    Jessica will cover the essential concepts in tracking and assessing traffic and activity on your web site, email lists, and social media and discuss a number of the tools available for managing the same.
  • The State of the HTML Email
    Facilitated by Suzi Grishpul, Radical Designs
    A perennial Dev Summit fave, the Email Newsletter therapy session will take stock of what's working and what's still broken in designing, sending and analyzing bulk email.
  •'s Progressive Partners Program
    Facilitated by Stefanie Faucher,
    Stefanie will explain the Progressive Partners Program and how interested organizations can get involved and take advantage of its benefits.
  • Surviving Salsa and Looking Beyond
    Facilitated by Salsa Users and Administrators
    Salsa has been around a long time, powered a lot of campaigns, and made a lot of campaigners crazy. As the organization evolves to a more investor-driven business model, online activists need to consider their options and assess the strengths of the Salsa platform against new and emerging platforms in the space. This session will summarize the current state of affairs and compare alternatives and migration strategies, while also giving Salsa its due as a tool that has filled an essential need for many years.
  • Analytics Integrations
    Facilitated by David Taylor, Rainforest Action Network
    David will share his tips and tricks for weaving web analytics, social media metrics and email campaigns stats together into smarter dashboards the inform campaign strategy and scale online relationships.
  • What Can an Online Organizer do With the Facebook Graph?
    Facilitated by David Taylor, Rainforest Action Network
    Orwell Incarnate or Online Organizer Honeypot? David will explain how he is employing the Facebook Social Graph in his campaigns and networking, and invite other participants to do the same.
  • Coordinating Your Online Channels
    Facilitated by Misty Avila, Aspiration
    Many nonprofits find it confusing to manage and effectively coordinate organizational messages and campaigns across their web site, social media outlets, blogs, email and other communications channels. This session will explain a framework in which to build an integrated online communications strategy.

Nonprofit Web Development

It couldn't be a Dev Summit if there wasn't a #webdev session cluster. Passionate radical techies will share knowledge and talk shop, with a focus on free and open tools and approaches.

  • Prioritizing User Experience For the Win!
    Facilitated by Zach Berke, Exygy
    Nonprofit web projects too often miss the mark because all the effort and investment are pointed at graphic design and software development. This session will employ case studies to convey the benefit of incorporating intentional user experience design into software deliverables, and offer tips on how current and future projects can leverage the same.
  • Test-Driven Development
    Facilitated by Cooper, Radical Designs
    Cooper will explain and discuss the testing framework he uses to build web sites and web apps.
  • Introducing EtherSheet
    Facilitated by EtherSheet Team
    EtherSheet is an exciting new browser-based spreadsheet inspired by EtherPad. EtherSheet team members will explain the design mandate and core concepts, and invite feedback on current challenges and future directions.
  • Introductions to Node.js
    Facilitated by Node Developers at the Summit
    Node isn't new any more, but it's still buzzword-compatible. Experienced Node developers will explain the basics and share knowledge in a question-driven format.
  • Rails vs Node.js - A Sympathetic Comparison
    Facilitated by Rails and Node Developers at the Summit
    Ruby on Rails and Node.js are two of the most popular and powerful web development environments around. This session will compare and contrast their relative merits, strenths, and weaknesses, and invite story swapping about lessons learned.
  • SocialCoding4Good - Harnessing New Types of Volunteers to Power Humanitarian Open Source Projects
    Facilitated by Gerardo Capiel, Benetech
    SocialCoding4Good is a Benetech program designed to drive more human resources and talent into Free and Open Source Software projects for social causes. Gerardo will talk about successes and lessons learned to date, and invite feedback on how to improve the program moving forward.
  • The Specialists Guild - A New Approach to Software Testing
    Facilitated by Andy Aczel, The Specialists Guild
    The Specialists Guild is introducing a new socially innovative approach to software testing, employing individuals on the Autism Spectrum who fundamentally enjoy software testing and thrive on what some see as tedious tasks. Andy will share his learnings and invite questions and feedback on the emerging model.
  • Delivering Minimum Viable Product - MVP isn't just for athletes anymore
    Facilitated by Zach Berke, Exygy
    The webdev buzzwords from the latest tech bubble come fast and easy - "Lean", "Agile", "Pivot", "501c3 Equity Stake". Kidding on that last one. In this session, Zach will share the philosophy and practice of delivering MVPs: Minimum Viable versions of Products being developed, and the benefits derived from engaging target users earlier and more often in softare design and delivery.

Mobile Development and Mobile Security

Mobile is changing the nonprofit technology landscape in good and arguably less good ways. We are grateful to have deeply knowledgeable mobile developers and practitioners at the Dev Summit, and they'll make sure to cover the full spectrum of issues in this fastest-evolving technology realm.

  • The State of Mobile for Nonprofit Needs
    Facilitated by Evan Henshaw-Plath,
    In this question-driven session, Evan will discuss trends he is seeing in both mobile adoption and strategy as well as mobile development for nonprofits in both the US and international contexts.
  • How to Write Low-Cost Mobile Apps and Mobile Tools
    Facilitated by Evan Henshaw-Plath, and Tomas Krag
    While smartphones, pads and tablets are all the rage, and Android and iOS expand at the speed of feature proliferation, there are still a huge range of applications and critical use cases for older phones, non-data cell coverage, and SMS. Tomas will talk about specific use cases at the low end of the mobile spectrum and invite dialog on how to design mobile tools to be most inclusive, affordable, and sustainable. Evan will discuss cost-effective ways for nonprofits to leverage smart mobile devices without breaking the bank or buying an albatross.
  • Mobile Security for Activists
    Facilitated by Cooper, Radical Designs
    Smart phones aren't just smart for you, they can also provide savvy and data for those wanting to surveil and monitor social change efforts. In this highly-regarded session, Cooper will enumerate a range of best practices, from the simple to the sophisticated, for maximizing security on your phone while minimizing the risk of putting yourself and other
  • Protecting the Identity of Human Rights Activist When Using Mobile
    Facilitated by Guardian Project
    The Guardian Project is an exciting open source project that aims to offer secure mobile capabilities to human rights activists around the world. This session will introduce the suite of Guardian tools and technologies and educate participants on how they can employ mobile devices more privately and anonymously.
  • Evaluating Security Risks When Working With High-Risk Constituents
    Facilitated by Tomas Krag
    Tomas will share stories and learnings from working on mobile tools for refugees and refugee networks, discussing both the threat models and the on-the-ground challenges of deploying mobile tools in ways that don't create new risks and problems.

Mapping and Geographic Information Systems

Mapping and Geographic Information Systems have come so far so fast, and the applications for nonprofits are myriad. These sessions are designed to educate and inspire better use of "geo" tools.

  • OSM Mapping Party
    Facilitated by Schuyler Erle, Open Street Map
    Open Street Map is an excellent alternative to Google Maps, and in this session, participants will learn the essentials of the platform by diving in and making their own maps.
  • Advanced Problems in Open Mapping
    Facilitated by mapping practitioners at The Summit
    Open mapping is a burgeoning and vibrant ecosystem, but that doesn't mean all the problems are solved. In this roundtable session, participants will talk about what still remains to be done in making GIS tools
  • Case Study: Saving Lives with Crowd-Sourced Mapping in Haiti
    Facilitated by Schuyler Erle, Open Street Map
    Schuyler has worked extensively in the Haiti context, and will discuss what worked and what didn't in using online maps in crisis response.
  • Introduction to TileMill
    Facilitated by Eric Gundersen, Development Seed
    TileMill is one of the most exciting platforms to emerge over the past several years. Eric will explain what makes it different from other tools as well as the range of ways in which nonprofits can leverage the technology in their programmatic work
  • Advanced TileMill: Taking Mapping to Places It Has Not Gone
    Facilitated by Eric Gundersen, Development Seed
    For the hard-core "Geo" geeks, Eric will address high-end TileMill features and capabilities, and encourage participants to push the edge of the TileMill envelope.

Business Process and Sustainability in NPTech

When it comes to technology for progressive causes, concepts like "Business Process" and "Sustainability" have a sexiness factor somewhere between dirty socks and dental floss. But this understudied set of disciplines and foundational factors needs deeper focus and broader awareness, for too many nonprofits get ripped off in acquiring technology or encumbered trying to sustain technology strategies that weren't designed for the same.

  • Support Group for anti-capitalist small business owners
    Facilitated by Dev Summit Participants
    Doing the commerce of nonprofit software development is definitely a form of capitalism. And many of the practitioners of the trade self-identify as anti-capitalist activists. This session will provide safe space to muse on the associated ironies, learnings, and other perspectives.
  • What Should a Web Site Cost?
    Facilitated by Allen Gunn, Aspiration
    As common as it is for nonprofits to pay for web sites, the market for the same continues to be opaque and wildly uneven. In this show-and-tell session, Gunner will share price points on Aspiration's cost tracking dashboard, and invite those present to dish and comment on what they are paying for a range of web-related technology services.
  • Best and Worst Practices for Work Agreements from both side of the fence
    Facilitated by Mark Libkuman, OpenFlows
    If there's one place where things can and consistently do go wrong in nonprofit technology, it is the contracting and business agreement arena. Too many nonprofits take the terms of legally binding documents on faith, and too many development shops are more focused on delivering great sites rather than great documents for transacting the same. Mark will share survival stories and lessons learned, and invite others to pile on, and talk about best practices for authoring work agreements.
  • How to prepare for a website development project from the org side
    Facilitated by Ryan Ozimek, PICnet
    Web sites don't work like pizza delivery; you can't just order one up and have it delivered ready to serve. Getting a web site right requires lots of pre-work and discovery to understand both what the target users and the sponsoring org want out of the site. Ryan will share the processes he has developed at PICnet over the past decade and invite those present pose their questions and particular challenges.
  • Managing "Techies" and Developers
    Facilitated by Allen Gunn, Aspiration
    Managing staff and consultants who serve in technological roles is a challenging and complex undertaking, with a range of human and business-related factors to balance and address. In this peer-learning session, those present will share their challenges, learnings, and best practices for realizing fruitful and sustainable collaborations with the demographic most often known as "geeks".
  • Agile practices in nonprofit contexts (both for software dev projects and more in general),
    Facilitated by Tomas Krag
    "Agile" refers specific methodologies focused on iterative processes that directly involve target users of new technologies. Tomas will discuss how these approaches can be relevant to nonprofits in a broader and less technical range of contexts.
  • Worker Owned Cooperative and Allies Jam Session
    Facilitated by Mark Libkuman, OpenFlows
    It's a Dev Summit tradition of which we are deeply proud, where technology cooperative members talk about the state of their alternative business art and invite others to discover the same.
  • Building SaaS models to serve the sector
    Facilitated by Ryan Ozimek, PICnet
    Nonprofit SaaS (Software as a Service, aka hosted apps) is one of the great unrealized dreams of nonprofit tech. While mainstream tools like Google Docs and web mail are robust platforms that serve a range of nonprofit needs, many other nonprofit-specific categories remain under-supported in the SaaS context. Many options that do exist come with draconian lockin, proprietary business models, and other inflexible terms and technology. Ryan will share his vision for a better, more open SaaS landscape, and invite participants to do the same.
  • Business Models Round Table
    Facilitated by Scott Bechtler-Levin
    This share-and-compare session will invite participants to compare what's working and what's not in making their nonprofit technology ventures sustainable.

Data, Identity and Privacy

Nonprofits all too often focus on aspects of technology that correspond to line items in budgets - software, hardware, and labor. These sessions will unpack essential topics in managing and protecting information, privacy and identity online.

  • What's new with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and How Can You Help?
    Facilitated by Marcia Hofmann, EFF
    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is doing essential work to secure an open, democratic, and activism-friendly future for the internet. This session has become an annual tradition at the Dev Summit, and Marcia share the latest focus areas for EFF and let folks know what they can do to get involved.
  • Open Data in UK and beyond
    Facilitated by Matt Parker, Lamplight
    One of Lamplight's enthusiasms is open data in the non-profit sector. Matt will discuss the "state of non-profit open data in UK" as an introduction and facilitate a discussion comparing and contrasting with open data experiences from other contexts.
  • What does Strategic Hosting look like in 2012?
    Facilitated Sysadmins at the Summit
    All too often, nonprofits treat hosting for their web sites and data sets as a commodity service, focusing on price and convenience rather than a more thorough assessment of tradeoffs between various alternatives. THis
  • Taming the data hodge-podge
    Facilitated by Josh Senyak, QuickSilver Consulting
    "Great nonprofits need great information management." For sure. But in the real world, nonprofits have to manage their administrative and programmatic information with a hodge-podge of isolated software tools and services, variously tracking donors, volunteers, members, events, clients, services, satisfaction surveys, and more. If there's a CIO in place, these tools may be well selected and coordinated. But what about other nonprofits? How do they assess whether they've assembled the best tools for the job? How to get staff the information they need, at the lowest cost and with the least effort? In this session, participants will share experiences, wisdom and creativity gleaned working as nonprofit managers, staff and consultants and collaboratively propose solutions and best practices for taming the data hodge-podge.
  • What is up with Online Identity?
    Facilitated by Evan Henshaw-Plath
    Online identity is a big, hard, unsolved problem. Corporations like Facebook and Google who claim to have a solution don't always have nonprofit needs and interests in mind. Evan will summarize the current state of affairs, and discuss best options for organizations and individuals to maintain their online identities.
  • Another Cloud is Possible
    Facilitated by Allen Gunn, Aspiration
    "The Cloud" plays an ever-increasing role in NGO technology. Nonprofits are beating a path to entrust mission-critical data and core business processes to infrastructure controlled and run by companies who don't share their values or mission objectives. This session will question assumptions when it comes to conventional wisdom on the role of the cloud and its place in radical activism, and will seek to address vexing questions including "When does the cloud make sense for activists?" and "Are we creating a collective single point of failure for progressive digital assets?" This won't be no Luddite luau, much more of a game theory geekout!
  • Security and Privacy in Projects Supporting At-Risk Populations
    Facilitated by Tomas Krag
    Tomas will discuss essential considerations in using technology and online tools to support and empower at-risk populations including refugees and dissidents, and discuss which technologies offer the potential to mitigate the diverse range of risks.

Open Source Content Management Systems

Open Source Content Management Systems (CMS) are used to publish web sites and manage core online presence for an ever-increasing percentage of nonprofits, and in 2012 this broad array of platforms represents arguably the richest, healthiest, most diverse software ecosystem in the nonprofit sector.

  • Introduction to WordPress
    Facilitated by Aspiration and Radical Designs
    WordPress has become the de facto standard in entry-level nonprofit web publishing. This session will discuss why and explain the basics of the WordPress model, including posts, pages, themes, plugins, and user roles.
  • Introduction to Drupal
    Facilitated by Radical Designs and FloatLeft
    Drupal is one of the most powerful and popular of web platform for nonprofit web pulishing. This introductory session will explain the information model, core concepts and ways to get started learning and participating in the Drupal community.
  • The State of Joomla! 2012
    Facilitated by Ryan Ozimek, PICnet
    Ryan will offer an overview of how Joomla! has ecolved to become not just a content management system, but also an excellent web application environment, as well as where it is headed in 2013.
  • Care and Feeding of your Open Source CMS
    Facilitated by Radical Designs
    Nonprofits, reflected in both budget and time allocations, put the vast majority of their web investment into design and launch of web sites. This session will elaborate on best practices for keeping your open source web site up and running long after lunch.
  • Advanced WordPress: Getting the most out of the platform
    Facilitated by Radical Designs
    The RD team will demonstrate powerful ways for extend and customize WordPress, including custom themes and plugins.
  • Advanced WordPress: WordPress is an Application Engine!
    Facilitated by Zach Berke, Exygy
    Zach will demonstrate ways in which he and his team have pushed WordPress beyond its traditional limits and into the realm of a web application platform.
  • Advanced Drupal
    Facilitated by Drupal Administrators at The Summit
    In this questions-driven session, participants will be invited to pose their questions acout customizing and extending Drupal in a range of contexts.

Nonprofit CRM (Constituent Relationship Management)

Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) platforms are supposed to allow nonprofits to track, manage, and engage their supporters. But today they remain a vexing, densely populated software domain with very few easy choices or safe long-term bets.

  • Introduction to Nonprofit CRM
    Facilitated by Aspiration
    This session will introduce core CRM concepts, discuss some of the most popular platforms, and invite participants to drive the dialog with questions.
  • CiviCRM 101 - An Introduction to Open Source CRM
    Facilitated by CiviCRM team
    CiviCRM is one of the most popular CRM platforms in the nonprofit sector, and this session will explain core concepts of the platform, as well as ways to test drive the system and participate in the CiviCRM community.
  • CiviCRM 201 - Getting the Most Out of the Platform
    Facilitated by CiviCRM team
    This session will address more advanced concepts including customization, reporting, and maintenance. CiviCRM users and devs are invited to bring their questions.
  • Online Fundraising Help Session
    Facilitated by Jonas Heineman, AJ Strosahl,
    Participants are invited to bring their online fundraising questions to a a lively discussion intended to help organizations more effectively leverage online donation tools.

Free and Open Source Software for Nonprofits

Free and Open Source Software offers the potential to give nonprofits and activists much deeper control of their long-term technology destiny, but much of that vision remains only partially realized. These sessions will assess where we, where we still need to get to and how we should go forward.

  • Where Are We with Free and Open Source in 2012?
    Facilitated by Allen Gunn, Aspiration and Dirk Slater,
    Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) continues to power a broader swath of nonprofit technology needs, and in this session we'll explore where things are at, what's working, and where we still need to build capacity and understanding.
  • Introducing the 2012 NOSI Primer
    Facilitated by Dirk Slater,
    NOSI is the Nonprofit Open Source Initiative, and for almost ten years, the NOSI Primer has provided nonprofit decision makers and staff with grounding in the fundamental terms and concepts need to adopt and leverage FOSS in nonprofit contexts. With generous support from IBM, the Primer is being updated for 2012, and Dirk will share how the new edition is different and invite feedback from participants on how to make it most relevant and valuable to readers.
  • "Open Source 'vs.' the Cloud"
    Facilitated by Michelle Murrain, MetaCentric Consulting
    Some call it a false dichotomy, others consider it a battle for the future of nonprofit software strategy. Michelle will explain the core concepts that distinguish "The Cloud" with those of open source, and invite dialog on how nonprofits can leverage both harmoniously.
  • Multi-Organization Collaboration relying on Free & Open Source applications
    Facilitated by Mark Libkuman, OpenFlows
    Over the past several years, OpenFlows has been employing Drupal and CiviCRM to build a platform designed to manage all aspects of operating a public access TV Station. The project has blossomed into a true multistakeholder effort, and Mark will tell the whole story while focusing on how almost 20 stations are sharing code and collaborating on a set of Drupal modules.

Community and Technology

Technology is nothing without the humans, passions and values that drive it.

  • Things I Learned Doing Mobile Work in Africa
    Facilitated by Camille Ramani
    Camille recently returned from a tour working with Refugees United in Nairobi, Kenya. In this session, she'll relate what she learned and what surprised her during her time across the Atlantic.
  • Being a non-male developer
    Facilitated by Non-Male Developers present at the event
    This dialog-oriented sessions will invite discussion on what it means to be a non-male developer in progressive and nonprofit contexts, through story sharing and comparison of experiences.
  • Ethical Consulting for Nonprofit Tech
    Facilitated by Michelle Murrain, MetaCentric Consulting
    Providing technology consulting services to nonprofits is always challenging, dealing with resource constraints, knowledge gaps and prevalent technophobia. Doing it within an ethical framework that places the nonprofit mission at the center of every project is even harder. Michelle and other consultants present will discuss their approach to providing appropriate and effective con
  • Motivating and Rewarding Knowledge Sharing
    Facilitated by Scott Bechtler-Levin
    IdeaEncore is that rare success story in knowledge sharing: a site where literally hundreds of organizations have pooled knowledge resources for the benefit of nonprofits. Scott will share learnings from building the platform and what he believes are fundamentals that drive rich and healthy sharing across all dimensions of the 501c3 landscape.
  • Book Sprints and the importance of High Quality Technical Documentation
    Facilitated by Tomas Krag
    As one of the original pioneers in book sprints - week-long events where a full book is authored and published by a group of participants - Tomas will explain the process and discuss the importance of documentation for non-profit open source projects.

We Need Your Ideas!

We welcome additional session proposals!

Just email us with your suggestions and requests!