Aspiration News

Fundraising and Donation Management Compilations

Compilations of applications and resources on donation management and fundraising tools can be found at these two useful sites:


Tom Fraise also has a comparison matrix downloadable from his site, allowing you to compare applications according to a number of criteria.

SMS Tools

There are a number of lists of tools and strategy on using short text messaging for advocacy and other nonprofit work.

AdvoacyDev generated a list of SMS Tools.

On Mobile Active, we are compiling resources and articles on using SMS for advocacy. Aspiration and Green Media Toolshed are hosting the site in conjunction with a strategy meeting of activists in Toronto in September 2005.

It includes a rich set of resources, articles, case studies, and tools.

Three Pillars of Social Source

Gideon Rosenblatt's excellent paper on the state of nonprofit technology is a must-read for everyone interested in information technology for nonprofits. From the site:

Three Pillars of Social Source

In the world of scarce resources plaguing the nonprofit technology sector, we currently suffer from a conflation of roles. This paper outlines three functional roles that are essential for a vibrant nonprofit technology sector. These “three pillars” include the “application developer”, the “application integrator” and the “application hoster.” Drawing clearer distinctions between these roles will help nonprofit technology assistance providers clarify their organizational missions, which will reduce competitive overlap and pave the way for improved collaboration between organizations. These steps are absolutely necessary if we are to evolve the nonprofit technology sector into a more integrated “social source” movement dedicated to empowering the agents of social service and social change throughout our societies.

SmartMobs: Promotes MobileActive

SmartMobs: Promotes the Conference

Green Media Toolshed and are hosting the first-ever gathering of activists and organizers using cell phones and sms in their campaign, human rights, and political work. (Thanks Katrin)

They are still looking for experienced campaigners, human rights, and social justice activists who are using sms messaging and cell phones in their work.

Cell Phone Activism

Cell Phone Activism -

OSI and the Beldon fund have funded Green Media Toolshed and Aspiration to convene a working session of global activists, communications staff, technology experts and foundation staff to mine a wide variety of experience, expertise and vision. The goal is to shorten the learning curve and accelerate the use of cell phones as a successful tool in campaigns, human rights and democracy efforts. The convergence will develop new guides for campaign planners, communications staff and technology staff. All will participate to explore the ways cell phones can be used in organizing contexts. Case studies from the field will be explored and a short list of recommendations will be developed for funders interested in supporting ways that leverage the new wireless connections provided the mobile phones. OSI has committed to fly participants in from across the world including Africa, South Korea, the Phillip, India, the Ukraine, South America and the US.

Facilitation for Networks Training Convergence

Event Date(s): 
June 1, 2005

At the invitation of IDRC and, Aspiration trained other facilitators in key elements of the event facilitation methodology that Aspiration has developed for nonprofit technology gatherings such as Developer Convergences, sprints, Source Camps, and Penguin Days. Particular emphasis was placed on exploring how the Aspiration approach can be used to build or strengthen collaborative networks, and to lay the foundation for concrete online and offline post-event collaboration, through the effective use of wikis and other online tools used to produce documentation in real time during face to face events. The workshops also provided a springboard for and IDRC planning processes and the development of a ‘facilitation for networks’ methodology which has since been used to organize other events.

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.

Penguin Day New York

Event Date(s): 
May 7, 2005

PD in the Big Apple was big fun, with a diverse group of participants and facilitators. Co-organized by Aspiration in partnership with the LINC Project of the Welfare Law Center and United Way of New York City, the event included sessions on Introduction to Free and Open Source Software for Nonprofits, Local resources and who’s-who in the New York Free/Open Source community, e-Advocacy platforms and best practices, Selecting an operating system, and Free and Open Source migration strategies, and a spirited “Speed Geeking” extravaganza.

Penguin Day San Francisco Bay Area

Event Date(s): 
April 12, 2005

The first west coast Penguin Day, co-organized by Aspiration and CompuMentor, was held in Oakland and brought nonprofit staff, eRiders, and open source practitioners and developers together for fun, dialog and skill-sharing. A particular focus of this Penguin Day was the role free and open source software plays in hardware recycling, with sessions offered by FreeGeek, Technology Rescue, and Hawaii Open Source Education Foundation (HOSEF). Other sessions addressed CRM solutions for nonprofits, eAdvocacy tools, open content, and yet another round of madcap “Speed Geeking”

Nonprofits, Riders, and 'Geeks' Gather at Penguin Days to Make Better Software and the World a Better Place

SAN FRANCISCO, March 7 (via AScribe Newswire) --

Activists, nonprofits, and software developers will meet at local Penguin Days ( in Chicago, San Francisco, and New York City this spring to demystify open source software for social change.

Penguin Days explore open source software in plain language, build networks among nonprofits technology users, and help socially-minded 'geeks' find ways to support nonprofit organizations.

Katrin Verclas of Aspiration ( who has been organizing Penguin Days in what is becoming growing movement, said, "The goal of Penguin Days is to make open-source software available to non-profit organizations who are in need of specific, often expensive or inflexible programs to manage volunteers, fundraise, or mobilize constituents. Penguin Days challenge software developers to provide flexible and appropriate open source software for nonprofits. They also empower nonprofits to better communicate their needs and be active partners in the use of open source technology."

Chronicle of Philanthropy on Penguin Days 05

Just in time for Penguin Day San Francisco/Bay Area on April 12, the Chronicle of Philanthropy is reporting on the goals of Penguin Days. It can be found here (paid subsciption required.)

Nicole Wallance, senior staff reporter at the Chronicle, writes: "A series of events this spring will bring together charity technology employees, consultants, and software developers to discuss the potential -- and the challenges -- of developing open-source software.

"We want to demystify open-source software for nonprofit organizations," says Katrin Verclas, co-director of Aspiration, an Amherst, Mass., nonprofit group that seeks to create a software landscape in which charities have access to good-quality, low-cost tools that help them do their work."

Penguin Day Chicago

Event Date(s): 
March 26, 2005

Following on the heels of the 2005 Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC), Penguin Day Chicago was was co-organized by Aspiration with NPOTechs and Teaming for Technology Chicago. Sessions included Introduction to Free and Open Source Software for Nonprofits, Local resources and who’s-who in the Chicago Free/Open Source community, e-Advocacy platforms and best practices, Selecting an operating system, and Free and Open Source migration strategies, as well as the ever-popular “Speed Geeking”

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.

First Ever Free/Libre/Open Source Usability Sprint a Success

Developers and Activists Gathered in San Francisco to Make Open Source Software More Usable and Accessible

Aspiration, dedicated to better software for a better world, and Blue Oxen Associates, a think tank focused on improving collaboration, held the first-ever Free / Libre / Open Source Software Usability Sprint in San Francisco, California on February 18-20, 2005 (

The event was the first in a series of usability sprints focused on making free/libre/open source software more useful for nonprofits and activists.

The Sprint gathered Open Source developers - specifically those interested in creating software for supporting non-profit organizations - with usability experts. The group included 40-some people from the Bay Area, San Diego, Massachusetts, and even Berlin, while the web audience may have had further reach.

FLOSS Usability Sprint I

Event Date(s): 
February 18, 2005 to February 20, 2005

The first-ever FLOSS Usability Sprint brought together programmers, usability experts, project managers, and users to discuss methodologies for improving the usability of Free/Libre Open Source Software (F/LOSS) and to apply those processes towards specific software projects. The goals of the sprint will focus on building community between these groups and focusing efforts on non-profit-focused F/LOSS projects. The event surveyed and designed methodologies for improving the usability of open source software and apply the learnings to real software projects.

Asia Source I

Event Date(s): 
January 28, 2005 to February 4, 2005

Asia Source I was convened by the Tactical Technology Collective in partnership with and Aspiration. Aspiration managed design of the agenda, and led facilitation of the event, which was aimed at building the technical skills of those working with NGOs in South and South East Asia. The event brought together nearly 100 NGOs and NGO technology support professionals working at the local level across the region, to act as a focal point in increasing the practical uptake of FOSS desktop and tools amongst the voluntary sector in South and South East Asia.

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.

Aspiration's Innovation Track at the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC)

Event Date(s): 
March 23, 2005 to March 25, 2005

Aspiration is organizing a track of 14 sessions and clinics on technology innovation in the nonprofit sector at the NTEN National Technology Conference in Chicago.

The NTC is the largest nonprofit tech conference and aimed at IT staff in nonprofits and the people supporting nonprofits and their IT needs. The Aspiration Innovation Track at the NTC will focus on these themes:

  1. Project/Risk Management: How to you choose software? How do you manage IT projects in your organization? How do you decide whether to build/buy/or bend? How to you manage risk?
  2. Innovation Slams: Learn about tools while having some fun! Partake in Aspiration's famous SpeedGeeks and clinics;
  3. Free and Open Source Software--cheaper, better, faster software tools and development for nonprofits? Why is open source innovative? How do you leverage f/oss for nonprofit organizations?
  4. What’s next for nonprofit technology and software innovation? What's up and coming that NPO techies should be aware of? What do we need to realize the potential of IT for our organizations?

Sessions include: Blogs and RSS, Content Management with Open Source Software, and Successful Project Management of Web Development Projects, to name just a few.

Clinics and speed geeks feature security tools, blogging, taming your website with a CMS, and using Linux in your organization.

Please contact us at info at aspirationtech dot org if you are interested in participating in this track or like to see specific topics covered in the sessions.

We and the designated session designer welcome your input, ideas, and suggestions for this series!

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.


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