Building Online Communications in Grassroots Nonprofits

Event Date(s): 
June 23, 2011

We're returning to Fresno, CA on June 23 from 12:30 to 4:30 pm with a no-cost training on building effective online communications for nonprofits and social justice organizations. Based on feedback from Central Valley participants, this training will include two interactive sessions to help you build out your online strategy efforts.

Register for June 23 in Fresno

Establishing a Publishing Matrix:

Starting Your Nonprofit on Social Media - Fresno

Event Date(s): 
April 6, 2011

We continued our Central Valley eAdvocacy Capacity Building Program with a training in Fresno, CA on Wed, April 6 from 12:30 to 4:30 pm. This collaborative and hands on training provided nonprofits a better understanding of how to start using social media, like Twitter, Facebook, or blogging, for their organization.

The following are the materials used during the training.

These materials are distributed under a Creative Commons license, and we encourage re-use, modification, and re-distribution in any situation where they may be useful.

The Central Valley eAdvocacy Program is generously funded by the California Consumer Protection Foundation. Special thanks to the Center for Multicultural Cooperation for coordinating the event space and providing interests of the Central Valley.

Sign up for the Central Valley Mailing List to get training announcements directly to your inbox.

Questions? Email

Penguin Day DC 2011

Event Date(s): 
March 20, 2011

Learn about Free and Open Source for nonprofits!

Penguin Day returned to Washington DC right after the 2011 NTC. We got to collaborate with lots of friends, old and new alike at the Josephine Butler Parks Center.

Penguin Days are designed to let nonprofits and social justice activists learn about free and open source software that can support their work and potentially save them money, including tools for web publishing, fundraising, blogging, and campaigning.

Sessions included...

  • Introduction to Free and Open Source Software
  • Making sense of Free and Open Source Content Management Systems
  • Participating in Free and Open Source Communities
  • Introduction to Blogging with Wordpress
  • Introduction to Free and Open Source Desktop Applications
  • Free Culture, Creative Commons And Open Content
  • Managing Constituents with CiviCRM
  • Mozilla Drumbeat and the Open Web


p>Penguin Day DC 2011 was organized by Aspiration and PICnet.

It was a great day and we hope to see lots of you at the next one!

Mozilla Jetpack for Learning Design Camp

Event Date(s): 
March 10, 2010 to March 12, 2010

Aspiration traveled to Austin to run a 3-day Design Camp that culminated Mozilla's Jetpack for Learning Design Challenge. Ten projects from the Challenge were invited to the Camp, which took place prior to South By Southwest Interactive 2010. Aspiration designed and led the event in partnership with Mozilla, along with Philipp Schmidt, Jetpack for Learning (JFL) Coordinator, and Brian King and Andy Edmonds, JFL Course Leads.

The camp brought together developers, designers, and educators who are connecting the best ideas from open education with the coolest new open internet technologies. Design Challenge prototypes were finalized with support from the course leaders, and additional agenda time was spent discussing and working toward a shared vision for social learning in the open web. Selection and announcement of ultimate Design Challenge winner took place during Mozilla's SXSW Interactive event.

In addition to enhancing the ten great Jetpack for Learning projects, the Design Camp had several additional objectives:

  • Strengthen the community of practice among practitioners working in the Jetpack for Learning space;
  • Engage in visioning and collaboration around the future of open web technologies in the context of education;
  • Address participant questions and learning needs regarding all aspects of Jetpack and Firefox development.

Check out the draft Design Camp Agenda as well as the Jetpack for Learning Design Challenge home page. Also see event coverage on the MacArthur Spotlight blog.

Managing Nonprofit Technology Projects - Washington DC 2010

Event Date(s): 
February 8, 2010 to February 9, 2010

Thanks to all the folks whose positive attitudes contributed to a very fun and productive MNTP DC 2010 in spite of the winter madness. And apologies for craziness beyond our control to all of you who were unable to get in for the event. Also, big thanks to Community IT Innovators (CITI) for hosting the event when our original venue was forced to close.

Event Overview

After a very successful DC debut in July 2009, Aspiration and Community IT Innovators (CITI) hosted the fourth Nonprofit Technology Project Management event in Washington DC on the 8th and 9th of February, 2010.

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

Feel free to join the event on Facebook and continue the conversation.

Check out the agenda and the list of excellent facilitators.

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 continue the collaboration.

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 were 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 also 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 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.


p>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.

Stay informed about key dates and registration information by signing up for our low-volume announcements list.

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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!


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