Rob Mitchell ( ) writes:

I’m helping to do documentation on the ChurchInfo project. It’s still early in its development and needs some other functionalities, but it’s a great start. I wrote a doc on installing ChurchInfo on an Ubuntu LAMP server from bare metal to using the app, including the installation of some support tools. This is a PDF available on the ChurchInfo web site.

ChurchInfo has some really neat functionality — basically it allows you to enter families, individuals, and organize them into groups and add roles. You can upload photos for families and individuals, and it ties in with GoogleMaps API to show geographic coordinates. You can create groups and organize people therein.

Another plus is that the database schema is extensible from within the application. Michael Wilt, who wrote ChurchInfo, is from a church polity that has basically active and inactive members, and that’s the default. In my tradition (Presbyterian) we have several classes of members: communicant, non-communicant, baptized, non-baptized (these last are the kids of member families), active and inactive, and the ChurchInfo interface allows you to add new membership classifications as you desire.

Similarly there are a couple of group classifications built in, but you can add new types of groups and roles to suit your own organizational structure, and this can grow over time as you dictate.

ChurchInfo is 100% open source — it uses PHP middleware to sit between the Apache server and the MySQL database back end. You can install it on Windows if you must, but it’s ideally suited for Linux.

If you don’t want to use an in-house server, it is straightforward to install on your ISP, provided it’s got PHP and MySQL available.

I recommend having PHPMyAdmin as a support tool. This will allow you an easy-to-use method of doing database backups (with PHPMyAdmin you can download the database to a text file already in SQL query format, that will re-create the database schema and populate it.)

The financial portion of Churchinfo allows you to track pledges and contributions, and will print out a report or output to a delimited text file. The latter is probably preferable, as it will allow you to customize a document in your spreadsheet program. I don’t remember if it allows you to designate funds to different accounts or campaigns, one of the functions I’d like to see.

Future enhancements should include a calendar module (there are presently hooks to work with WebCalendar, a PHP project) and an event scheduler, which should include a facility/resource scheduler as well. If you have a good email/workgroup package already that should suffice for you and doesn’t need to be part of your church management system, though being able to tie groups and members and roles together with schedules is helpful.

Bottom line, ChurchInfo is a pretty good little package. It still lacks some of the functionalities of the big commercial packages, but for a free app, it rocks. …Please consider giving it a try — it will cost you nothing. It’s not a full-featured Swiss Army Knife like some commercial packages, but if all you need are the awl, corkscrew, and a couple of regular cutting blades, it just might work for you.

Managing Virtual Distance – Driving Business Transformation through Distributed Work, November 14-16, 2007

The Disneyland Hotel • Anaheim, CA

THE One, THE Only Conference Focused on Strategies, Teams, Tools & Beyond in the Virtual Workplace

  • IDENTIFY, MANAGE & MEASURE virtual distance
  • Break through language barriers & manage MULTI-CULTURAL ENVIRONMENTS
  • Harness virtual KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT
  • Believe the unbelievable & witness the power of VIRTUAL WORLDS technology
  • Transform business norms & cause cultural shifts in the way people work through SOCIAL NETWORKING
  • Implement new millennium strategies that change the way we think about INNOVATION in a corporate context
  • Manage, Train & Measure Productivity of the REMOTE EMPLOYEE
  • Identify SECURITY CHALLENGES introduced by the transition into Web 2.0 and Web 3.0

To Register:
Call 888.670.8200
Fax 941.365.2507 

The New World of Work
Daniel W. Rasmus
Director of Information Work Vision – MICROSOFT

Virtual Distance Under High-Stress
Honorable Jerry MacArthur Hultin

Global Projects vs. Traditional Projects
Karan Sorensen

Legal Issues & IP Protection
Michael S. Mensik

Virtual Worlds Technology
Philip Rosedale

Secrets of High-Performance Distributed Teams
Cynthia C. Froggatt
Author of “Work Naked: Eight Essential Principles for Peak Performance in the Virtual Workplace”

Leadership in the Digital Age
Charles H. House

A Perspective From Corporate Resources
Ann Bamesberger
Vice President of Open Work Services – SUN MICROSYSTEMS

More here.

Survey on Adoption of Open Source Software in Non-profit Organisations

This online survey is being conducted for research at Napier University in Edinburgh. The aim of the survey is to investigate the factors influencing the adoption of open source software in non-profit organisations. Open source software is free software which can be downloaded from the Internet, often written by volunteers. It is made available with the source code (the original text form of the program) so that anyone can modify it for their own purposes. Examples include the Linux operating system and the Apache web server. In some areas open source software dominates – Apache has around 80% of the web server market for example. In other areas open source software has had less impact and commercial products still dominate, for instance word processing.

You do not need to be a user of open source software to take part in this survey – there are general questions on software use and views on software issues. Your views are valuable whether or not you use open source software: this will give a balanced view of the factors affecting decisions on whether or not to use open source software.

Your answers will be treated confidentially and will not be passed on to anyone else, and the name of your organisation will not appear in the results. Data will only be used for research purposes. Any questions you cannot answer, leave. This is not a test, the aim is to get your opinions, just answer as many questions as you can.

If you have any queries about this survey, please contact Guoli Zhang, email: or

eAdvocacy Jamboree July 17-20 Oakland, California

Aspiration invites you to join us July 17-20 for this year’s eAdvocacy Jamboree, taking place at Preservation Park in Oakland, California.  The Jamboree will be a creative, interactive opportunity to discuss and learn about what others are doing with online campaigning and advocacy tools. We’ll bring online campaigners and organizers together with developers of eAdvocacy tools and platforms for a fast-paced and far-reaching peer-to-peer skillsharing event. The participant-driven agenda will feature rich dialog and fun learning sessions.

The main event will run July 18-20, with a pre-day of eAdvocacy trainings on July 17 for those wanting to ramp up their eAdvocacy skills.

You can Register Now! And please let others know about the Jamboree! Complete details are at

The current agenda is online, and we welcome feedback and additions! We’re continuing to expand the format this year, and will have several interleaved tracks:
Training Fest: A full day of in-depth trainings will be offered on Tuesday the 17th, before the main Jamboree, on a range of topics including eAdvocacy 101, Web 2.0 Tools and Tactics, eAdvocacy Best Practices, Strategic Blogging, Intro and Advanced Sessions on Democracy in Action, Drupal, CiviCRM, Non-Profit Soapbox, and Joomla.

Interactive Track: participants will be able to workshop their current campaigns with facilitators and other participants, participate in peer web site reviews, brainstorm new campaign ideas, and engage in skillshares on any topic they want to discuss. Spectators will be few and far between!

Strategy Track – Tools, Tactics and Best Practices: eOrganizers and eAdvocacy practitioners from a broad base of causes and sectors will talk about what they’ve got in their toolboxes and the tactics and strategies they’re currently employing. Sessions will consider the challenges of messaging and maintaining supporter bases across campaigns. A particular focus will be on developing best practices in eCampaiging process and engagement models. Participants will also how they’re using emerging web 2.0 and other technologies to augment their eAdvocacy efforts. User/Developer sessions will allow stakeholders across the eAdvocacy landscape to discuss how we can all work together more effectively.

Developer Track – Open Source eAdvocacy Platforms: Where are we, what’s new, and how will it all interoperate? We’ll continue the dialog from past AdvocacyDev convergences and look for more opportunities to write tools that make life easier for campaigners and organizers. Latest releases of all relevant platforms will be demo’d and compared, and participants will be invited to drink from the fountain of cool technology Koolaid.

eAdvocacy Capacity Track – Addressing the Challenge: The most consistently vexing problem in the eAdvocacy space is how to develop more capacity. Campaigns and causes go wanting for able staff and consultants who could help them craft and execute appropriate online campaigns and strategies. This track will map what’s already being done in terms of training and documentation, while opening up the floor for discussion on how better to scale eAdvocacy communities of practice and pool various documentation resources.

As always, your input will dramatically shape what happens at the event, and we actively encourage you to let us know about sessions you’d like to see on the agenda.

For more information, contact or call 1.415.839.6456.

Event partners working with Aspiration to design the agenda and sessions include Blue Oxen Associates, (Warsaw, Poland),, CiviCRM, CivicSpace, DemocracyInAction, Drupal, Joomla!, MobileVoter, New Organizing Institute, Non-Profit Soapbox/PICnet,, and Radical Designs. More partners are being added, and we welcome more involvement!

Please let us know of questions, and we hope to see you there!

Allen Gunn
Executive Director, Aspiration

"Better Tools for a Better World"

Let’s Talk: How Open APIs Can Change How Nonprofits Manage Data

Nonprofits are challenged by managing their data effectively on a daily basis. This is hampering their work, making processes redundant and cumbersome, and adding precious time and costs to their operations – money and time better spent on services and programs.

APIs provide ways to more easily share data between applications. Open APIs also have the potential to bring data together in ways that create new ways of displaying information – such as bringing fundraising data to a content management system or blog, or by coupling geographic data with maps from Google.

In this paper, NTEN

  • Explains what open APIs are conceptually
  • Describes the technology behind APIs looks
  • Gives several concrete examples of how APIs are used
  • Delves into some issues to think about as you consider using these technologies in your organization

Tides Foundation Pizzigati Prize

Katrin Verclas writes:

NTENnies, Riders, and any and all open source developers!

Good deeds do get rewarded. 

If you know someone who’s been toiling in the open source vineyards, developing software that’s really helping a nonprofit succeed, check out the Tides Foundation Pizzigati Prize, a $10,000 annual award for outstanding contributions to software in the public interest.

The application deadline for this year’s prize: August 1. Find out more — and apply online — at

Disclosure: I am on the advisory committee.

One special note: Last year’s inaugural Pizzigati Prize competition drew nominations from a variety of nationally recognizable open source talents. But you don’t have to have done work for a top-tier national nonprofit to be considered for Pizzigati Prize honors.

“We’re looking for people whose software is making a difference,” says Jason Sanders, the Tides Foundation philanthropic advisor who coordinates the Pizzigati Prize, “and that difference can be in any sized community.”

Indeed.  So apply, forward, spread the word. 

Thanks, and have a great weekend!


Katrin Verclas
Executive Director
NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network
415 397 9000 ext 302 (new number!)
413 687 9877 mobile
skype: katrinskaya

Because People who Change the World need the Tools to do it.
Become a member now: