Aspiration News

Find a Fiscal Sponsor Here!

Last night I facilitated, "Starting a Nonprofit" group at the Craigslist Foundation nonprofit night. As we were discussing fiscal sponsorship options for start-up organizations, I said, "there are very few organizations who provide fiscal sponsorship."

Please prove me wrong!

FLOSS Usability Sprint IV

Event Date(s): 
March 9, 2007 to March 11, 2007

Aspiration and Blue Oxen Associates co-hosted the fourth FLOSS Usability Sprint March 9-11, 2007. Once again, Google graciously hosted the event at their headquarters in Mountain View. Project participants included Firefox, Drupal, WiserEarth, and Aspiration's own Social Source Commons.

Event proceedings were tracked on the FLOSS Usability Wiki.

How to secure a venue for a nonprofit event

Aspiration is planning a plethora of events right now so I am in the process of securing event venues right and left.

Here are the steps we take to research and secure a venue for an Aspiration run event.

1. Create a budget for the event with venue costs per-day included as a line item.

2. Estimate number of event attendees and how many plenary and breakout rooms are needed for the event.

3. Determine estimated date and time of the event and event location--city. 

Nonprofit Operations Brown Bag Lunch-All Things Technology

Thursday, April 5, 2007: We'll be meeting at the Nonprofit Technology Conference in DC to discuss nonprofit operations in all things related to technology: This includes but not limited to:

Nonprofit Operations Brown Bag Lunch-Nonprofit Compensation Plans

Wednesday, March 7, 2007:  Join us for an interactive Nonprofit Operations Brown Bag Lunch discussion about best practices for Nonprofit Compensation Plans.

Check out the Nonprofit Operations wiki where notes from the brown bag lunch discussion will be posted immediately following the event.

Keeping the Momentum Going

After the wind down of the conference, and sleeping off my red-eye flight back to Maine, now I’m a little nostalgic. Ah, the people, the knowledge, the horrible geek trivia…

But to keep the momentum going, I thought I’d document the commitments I’ve made to move things forward – so at a minimum I’ll feel really guilty if I don’t follow through.

We crystallized a number of initiatives that I’m excited about:

Gaps in Nonprofit Software

I'm here at the Nonprofit Software Development Summit and have been doing mostly logistics, however today I was able to attend a session facilitated by Laura Quinn of Idealware called "Gaps in Nonprofit Software" the notes from the session can be found here.

Integration Discussion Off to a Flying Start

This afternoon's session on integrating nonprofit software tools started off this continuing theme with some real life stories of the types of integration organizations are doing ( read the notes on the event wiki

Opening Session Audio now available

You can find it on in MP4 format.

Video excerpts are on the way, but take more time to compress and/or select and upload.

Today's haul: More than 30 gigs of DV format!

Diverse Opinions of the NPDev Community

The community-building activities at the start of the Summit revealed a surprising diversity of opinions within the npdev community. What most surprised me is that there's mixed opinions about whether nonprofits are ideologically obligated to support open-source software. My own thought is that social entrepreneurship will take off in the tech sector, and there will be successful nonprofit businesses that promote and develop open-source software that is just as reliable and usable as any proprietary software: ethical dilemma solved.

final preparations

The final preparations of the summit are underway at Aspiration - nametags, folders, lunch orders; Gunner sent out an updates and reminder email earlier this afternoon; check out the final agenda at

I am interested in quite a few sessions, some of which are in simultaneous tracks; choosing is going to be difficult. Not too bad though, irrespective, it is going to be interesting and a learning experience - moreover, I can always share/swap session notes with the other attendees. Looking forward to it!

How we upgraded our website

We use a Content Management System (CMS) for our website.  A CMS is an online database that holds all the content of our website and allows us to easily edit our website online. 

There are many great CMS's out there, however Aspiration uses Drupal.  We recently decided to upgrade the version of Drupal we were using because of all the new features available in the new version.

2007 Nonprofit Software Development Summit

Event Date(s): 
February 21, 2007 to February 23, 2007

The 2007 Nonprofit Software Development Summit was a first-of-its-kind convening to bring together the range of developers, technologists, managers, eRiders, integrators, users and other practitioners who self-identify under the umbrella of roles around “developing nonprofit software”. The event provided an opportunity both to gather as a community and to take stock of the field, while building connections and capacity.

The Summit was hosted in Oakland, California, from February 21st to 23rd, 2007. Additional code sprints and collaborations were scheduled on the day following the event.

The 2007 Nonprofit Software Development Summit was supported in part by the generosity of TechSoup and Google, as well as anonymous donors.

See the Event Schedule and Agenda, the Agenda Overview, event background, and press release.

Please have a look at the Event Wiki.

And feel free to join the Event Mailing List to participate in discussions about the Summit!

Goals of the Summit

The Summit will had as its primary goals the following:

  • To convene and strengthen connections between the networks of stakeholders in the nonprofit software spectrum, 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.

The agenda will take 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 will be in short supply, supplanted by participant-driven collaborations and small-group formats.

Event partners working with Aspiration to design the agenda and sessions included Blue Oxen Associates, Brattleboro Technology Collective, (Warsaw, Poland), Chicago Technology Cooperative, CivicSpace, CiviCRM, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, DemocracyInAction, DotOrganize, Drupal, Floatleft, Fund for the City of New York, Grameen Foundation,, Humaninet, Idealware, Leland Design, Nonprofit Open Source Initiative (NOSI), ONE/Northwest, Openflows Community Technology Lab, The Open Planning Project, OpenID, PICnet, Project Zero,, Radical Designs, Foundation, Sulá Batsú (San Jose, Costa Rica), and Ujima Consultants.

Background - Nonprofit Software Development Summit

Software tools and technology that empower nonprofit and non-governmental organizations to carry out their mission have come a long way in the past 5 years. The advent of hosted solutions for donation, membership and project management have reduced IT costs while increasing capacity and reach. Powerful open source content management systems have put dynamic, affordable web publishing in the hands of a broad range of grassroots organizations. Platforms to support online campaigning and advocacy are plentiful, feature-rich, and accessible to a majority of budgets. Office productivity suites have continued to gain utility, and email tools continue to revolutionize the way organizations communicate and collaborate.

Agenda - Nonprofit Software Development Summit

Note: The latest Agenda and Event Schedule are on the Event Wiki

The agenda for the Nonprofit Software Development Summit will be shaped by input from participants in the time leading up to and during the event, and many sessions will be self-organized in real time. We encourage you to have a look at the editable version of the agenda on the Event Wiki and offer your input on how to build out the sessions!

As with all Aspiration events, fast-paced “SpeedGeeking” will allow participants to share and compare projects, ideas, and cool tools. Interactive group activities will poll attendees on a range of development-related topics to tease out alliances and surface points of debate. Wikis and other collaborative tools will document and transmit the proceedings in real time, and festive evening activities will demonstrate that the most important sessions require neither laptops or note taking to provide full value.

Three Nonprofit Newsletters

Here are three Nonprofit eNewsletters I read.

1. tm Consulting Services HR eNewsletter:

I have no idea how I got subscribed to this eNewsletter, however Ted Medeiros, an nonprofit HR expert in California provides helpful HR tips and resources that I can apply and use in my nonprofit. His HR tips are helpful for nonprofits outside of California too.

Looking for a job? How I learned to market my skills in the nonprofit sector.

During my career I’ve had the opportunity to work in the career services department at my undergraduate institution and work with a nonprofit recruiter. These experiences taught me how to improve my resume, and market myself better during the interview process as a result get the jobs I want—like this one.

If you are trying to change jobs or just getting into the nonprofit sector, here’s what I’ve learned.

1. Resumes are more effective when they show specific examples of completed tasks AND organizational improvement results based on the completed tasks, for example:

Aspiration Co-Organizes Asia Source II

Event Date(s): 
January 22, 2007 to January 30, 2007

Aspiration traveled to Indonesia to oversee the agenda and facilitation at Asia Source II: Free and Open Source Technologies for NGOs (Non Government Organisations) and SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises). The event took place in Sukabumi, near Jakarta. The Asia Source II blog provided detailed accounts of camp life.

Aspiration partnered with fellow event organizers International Open Source Network, Tactical Technology Collective, InWEnt, ICT Watch, and Yayasan AirPutih. The event was targeted at those practitioners actively working with the NGO or SME sectors in South Asia and South East Asia, with focus on service and advocacy NGOs, educational organisations, NGO resource centres, community centres, health information organisations, SMEs and SME support agencies. Over 100 sessions were scheduled, including learning tracks on:

  • Open Publishing and Broadcasting: Communication Strategies and Writing Effectively, Graphic Design, Web Tools (Content Management Systems, Blogs, Wikis) and Audio/Video Production and Streaming
  • Alternative Hardware and Access: Refurbished Hardware, Thin Clients, Hardware Hacking, Wireless Solutions and Community Radio
  • FOSS Implementation and Migration: Moving an NGO or SME from proprietary software to FOSS. Participatory Design and Planning, Evaluating FOSS, End-User Training and Support Techniques, Dealing with Desktops, Proxy Server, Firewall, Mail Server and Groupware
  • Information Management: Mapping Information Sources and Requirements. Best practices for Creating Specifications, Information Architecture and User Interface Design

As with all Aspiration-facilitated events, Asia Source II was built around a participant-driven agenda, peer-to-peer knowledge and skill sharing, and capacity building through strengthened social networks.

Session proceedings were chronicled on a local wiki. Asia Source II is the latest in Source Events series, which has included Summer Source, Africa Source I and II, and Asia Source I.

Why it took us eight months to get our network up and running

Here’s the story about my experience setting up the network here at the San Francisco Nonprofit Technology Center. Even though there are a lot of tech folks working at the center, we still have challenges now and then trying to deal with computers and equipment.


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