Introducing the 2012 NOSI Primer

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A draft of the NOSI Primer can be found here:

Some of the comments from participants around why they are interested in learning more and/or supporting open source software for nonprofits:

“we can’t do x because we don’t the budget to purchase these off the shelf software packages”

“we need Microsoft Word because that’s what all the other organizations use that we need to share and collaborate with.”

“would love to find a way to get my own organization to switch, or if I can’t do that - then I want to see if I can get other organizations to switch”

“find ways to bring down the costs to associations for these crucial tools they need”

“most of the orgs I work with are pro-open source, but there’s still some residual thinking and I want to understand more about the way they are thinking”

“came here to help - direct experience from the IT side of convincing NPO clients to go the open source route and I also want to hear some of the problems others have so I can learn how to better help clients prevent and overcome challenges”

NOSI - History of Primer and Dirk’s history working with open source

Nonprofit Open Source Initiative - an informal network of nonprofits that are doing open source promotion.

1st edition came out - 2002/2003 (about 10 years ago) was really focused on helping groups do migrations to linux

2nd edition in 2007 - built that out further

3rd edition - 2012 - approach is to utilize the different open source choices, getting people to understand. currently in draft mode - looking for feedback and see if the primer makes sense to end users and developers.

now - open source is everywhere, many people are using it and don’t know it many systems out there (android phones, iOS built on the linux/unix core)

Goal is to show that open source is already hugely beneficial to you, and it isn’t as much about how to manage the migration but to find out how to make open source more beneficial for your nonprofit org.

Engage software developers around their needs and get them to develop something

Thing about the Free - yes, it’s free to download and use, but the cost is actually giving back to the developer community so they can make better software

things like bugs, how nonprofits can contribute, how they can give back to the open source community and why

The migration challenge - people still use the “easier” tools that are not open source (skype, microsoft office, )

FOSS evangelist when he first learned about community group developed software

After a year, an organization migrated back to proprietary despite the success of the open source migration due simply to clip art - at the time, clip art wasn’t good in the open source community

Developers can take these case studies and examples and learn how to better migrate and communicate with nonprofits, understand the needs around the use of the software, a stronger understanding of local support - what’s there, how can they help, are there people on hand locally if you’re not local to help with issues long term?

Open Source - you can localize the software without having to pay Microsoft and go through all the hoops.

The biggest problem with migrations tends to begin idealogically - what do people need? if open source can do it better - then you can do it.

That’s the piece where we’ve come to now with examples where the open source software works better. More stable, works, just better software

Needs: case studies on migrations to open source within nonprofit organizations

Commercial offerings have more options without privacy settings

European Privacy laws are more strict and many US software has databases full of information that is illegal elsewhere

Practical needs focused case studies -

occupy local guild was trying to report and track occupy arrestees and they were going to just take all the information about these people and just post it all up online where very private data about individuals would be publicly available.

Took time to explain why that’s bad/stupid - and then they got it but they needed something immediately to help the people being arrested.

using this to track arrests related to occupy, lawyers assigned to them, sit in the courtroom on an iPad and they assign lawyers to arrests, track it, and manage not to hand over all of the privileged information because “it was easy”

Suggestion for bloggers: put your blog on the google hosted platform because no one will be able to knock Google off the internet.

Data - and open source : open source software is more trustworthy with your data. More portable data, content. It is much easier with open source software to change platforms and migrate your data. You own all the data

Google Data Liberation Front - organizational committment that all users on all products can export and leave with their own data anytime

Section - What are the things that keep people from going fully open source?

Accounting - any good open source options?

Details around tax codes and accounting are really boring - people are so incredibly bored by the research problems and so very few but big companies can even bear to undertake it

What happens after I switch to an open source solution. Before I had a package (and maybe they charged more) but I could budget for it, clear cost. We don’t know what our funding is and we can fill out a grant and start early in our fiscal year. Very useful to arm NPO’s with estimated resource costs and also as an ongoing (support to expect, don’t go from “this to free” but from “this to support package(costs) to free”)

Calculator for open source costs -

Write up - what are open source business development models (Sarah will help!)

Case studies/videos/stories - here’s what an org was using, they switched to these tools, and now we have a full time person we couldn’t afford otherwise who can now support us with more and we experienced these things, here’s the costs

Unique experience - working in IT, a lot of open source suggestions came from problems they had around the limitations of software they were currently on, one org switched to openoffice because they couldn’t afford to buy new licenses for new staff.

Instead of just saying “get them on open source because its better” give them the options to show the comparison between the proprietary and open source solutions (comparison charts)

Open Source Hardware - new thing and really new unknown/not as well understood thing

What about Open API vs Open Source? Is there a section that explains this?

The size of an organization is really significant with how they approach the concept of open source -

if you were to divide the costs of licenses of all your employees, where’s the cost benefit, how are you thinking about things: if i have a 30 person organization, can I even afford to get a new system?

if I have a 5 person organization, I don’t have time to even talk to you

Training Resources for Open Source Tools - Section Recommendation

What about a section for consultants and developers on how to communicate to clients/prospects when they’re being “smoozed” by the big corporate vendor

Challenges for schools and open source adoption - platypus, npo org setting up linux labs in schools. Schools have some site based ability to make decisions but also has to work with the IT department at the district level.

NonProfit Tech community - people who are doing many of the hand holding to help nonprofits (like Tech Soup)

Discussion on trying to help advocate better user experience built within the open source applications. Advocates need to also take the time to educate nonprofits.

Not always about pushing a 100% open source environment, just to help find the best solution that helps the nonprofit succeed.

Training is definitely important,

NPO’s more likely to listen if you start talking about the money first - “i can save you money, just give me a little time” and you can get the knowledge out there

How can companies working on open source “hybrid” solutions improve usability for some of these tools (not usable for a techie, but for a nonprofit volunteer or admin)

Appendix - “free and open nonprofits” categories for what the nonprofits would need and asking people to make suggestions for the categories