Software Developments, Developers and
Follow the trail
- Software Developments - open source, ASP etc. and how they could benefit the sector.
- Finding relevant advice.
- Miscellaneous Specialist Software for contract management, information and advice work and other subject/function areas.
- Specialist software developers covering databases, information systems and more.
- Web Based Services for contact communication, online client or project management.
- Membership software; (charity) accounting software.
- Voluntary sector ICT initiatives, developments and issues,
Short note on terminology
We use the terms 'software', 'program', 'package' and 'application' fairly interchangeably. Basically this is the bundle of computer files which when brought into life actually produce the results you want (hopefully). An operating system is the underlying 'structure' used by the computer, such as Windows, Apple OS, Unix or DOS. Data is used by programs and increasingly can be moved between them, although the data structure may need to be 'mapped' across.
NB this section was mainly written in 2000. At summer 2005, Open Source is gradually developing in terms of general and sector specific applications, but ASP is only just starting. See Web-based facilities under Internet Services page for current offerings for British groups.
There is great potential for the non-profit community worldwide, although much of the running is American. Take a look at ebase (listed on the membership software page) for what has been achieved with basic technologies. We've looked at two areas: Application Service Providers (ASP) and Open Source Software. The ASP model is where the software programs doing all the real work are held on internet servers and 'rented' out on some basis, rather than being bought and installed on your desktop. It might be possible to develop a tailored system (possibly piecemeal) for a groups of organisations more economically this way, particularly if it makes use of the second element, Open Source ('free' software systems or elements, like Linux).
What is it all about?
The Alliance for Community Technology helped organise a Workshop at Ann Arbor in May 2000 which resulted in a Joint Statement on 'Making Advanced Technology Work for Community-Serving Organizations: The Potential Impact of OSS and ASPs '. The useful reference has disappeared, but we've reproduced the Appendix on our site for ease.
Explaining Open Source and use in the sector
Source from a discussion on UKRiders list, June 06:
- Open Source is on the map - Lasa (3 pages).
- Open Source for non-profits - Red Hat Magazine (2 pages).
- An Open Source Briefing - NTen, US (pdf, 8 pages).
- Choosing Open Source - A guide for civil society organizations - Commons Group, Canada.
- Wikipedia's FLOSS page.
The Nonprofit Open Source Initiative (NOSI) has been created to help facilitate a continuing discussion regarding the role of Open Source software in the Nonprofit sector - links page, messageboard etc.
Creative Commons is wider than open source software, working to create new forms of open copyright.
The Nonprofit Matrix is 'your online guide to ASP and Portal providers for the nonprofit sector' (American).
See Web Based Services for some current facilities.
Free advice in this area can be very costly! Developing software from scratch, or even assessing and implementing existing packages, based on a volunteer's personal approach, often with little or no documentation, can lead to short-term gains but medium to long term disasters. We won't go into the issues here, but ICT Knowledgebase may be useful. Also look at Sector Sources on the TechTips page.
Note: see separate page for web-based systems. For software written for specific types of organisations, check out the appropriate umbrella organisations listed on Helplines/Professional bodies or Areas of Concern.
Care and Client Management
CHL Systems Specialise in the social care sector. Its ASSETOnline system is used by dozens of voluntary organisations and is a complete, online client management system. Also has CHARMS - Foster care and Adoption Software.
Churches and hospices.See the IT for Charities web site for software lists.
Community profiling/appraisals. See Community Resources page.
Contact management As it is often connected we've included this area under membership software, although also see infrastructure/umbrella body section below.
Contract Management Keen Systems has developed a system to manage institutional funding contracts.
Information and Advice
AIMS (Advice & Information Management System) is produced by LASA.
Legal Case Management system for use by not-for-profit legal advice centres. For case follow-ups, including client consultations and court events. Developed as open source, with no cost to download, first released in 2004.
For infrastructure or umbrella body
See Membership software and Web-based facilities. There are also a number of other databases written for Councils for Voluntary Service. The Merlin system was one, developed for Basingstoke and Deane, but can't see info on their site any longer. See our Local contact page for your nearest CVS, who may know more.
Lobbying See Campaign Resources page on this subject for what is happening on email and other facilities.
Volunteer management software - see Volunteer page.
Also increasingly see Web Site design and development, as this aspect becomes integral to many offerings.
Appropriate Software Foundation Software systems for web site content management, contact relationship management, project management, and various other activities, delivered as application services. Eg Contact Relationship Management system for small group of organisations.
Real Time Information Systems 'is an Information Technology partnership specialising in designing and developing database applications, delivering in-house training and performing data analysis for the voluntary sector as well as manufacturing'. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Information Works Associated with Co-op Systems, specialising in web databases and strategy. Unit 4.09 Bondway Business Centre, 71 Bondway, London, SW8 1SQ, phone 020 7793 0677, email: email@example.com
Caversham Data Projects a one man band providing bespoke database solutions and project management.
Keen Systems Bespoke solutions for the sector, including the "interactive template for Full Cost Recovery".