4 Free Open Source Projects to Help You Run Your Nonprofit

Finding the right software for a nonprofit organization can take up valuable time and resources, but open source can often provide cost-effective solutions. We are thrilled to see the number of open source options for nonprofits expanding. These projects—created in and out of the social sector—are examples of the fantastic potential open source has to better equip nonprofits with cutting-edge software, often at a reduced operating cost. The continued development of open source projects for nonprofits also allows for increased collaboration between developers and nonprofits, with the potential to support communities everywhere.

At the Case Foundation, we have long been advocates for expanded use of open source by nonprofits and wanted to flag four examples of this growing trend:

If You’re Looking for an Effective CRM: CiviCRM

Customer Relation Management Systems (CRMs) are key for companies that must manage individual relationships to drive revenue, but they are also often necessary for nonprofits who must manage various types of external relationships. CiviCRM manages donors, suppliers and anyone else who helps a nonprofit achieve its mission. For example, the software can digitize and organize HR resources as well as generate reports on contributions to an organization. It allows nonprofits to both fundraise and create advocacy campaigns, like ‘Get Out the Vote’ initiatives. More than 11,000 organizations currently use this platform, showcasing the breadth of impact open source software can achieve. The National Hispanic Voter Educational Foundation, for example, implemented CiviCRM to create a database to organize over 60,000 contacts and conduct surveys in the community. Visit Project Homepage.

To Send Large Quantities of Email: Mail for Good

It is common for organizations to use email marketing platforms to share their message and news about their work, but those services often come at a price. Enter Mail for Good, which was developed in 2017 by individuals at the nonprofit Free Code Camp, which needed a better and cheaper way to send a large volume of emails. After they built it, they published the code to make sure other organizations who shared their issues could easily find a solution. Free Code Camp can now send out 800,000 emails in four hours with Mail for Good for only the $10/month it takes to support a server instead of spending thousands of dollars per month on a subscription service. Visit Project Homepage.

For Connecting an Organization to Volunteers: Sapphire

An example of how just a few individuals can make a big impact! Sapphire, created through the Code for Change program, is a volunteer management system, allowing groups to organize their paid and unpaid volunteers, communicate new opportunities and keep track of events. High School Senior Armaan Goel created Code for Change in 2018, a school club and nonprofit, to harness talent in high schools and create digital solutions for local organizations, like Exodus Refugee Immigration in Indianapolis. The refugee organization helps individuals rebuild their lives in Indiana and saves precious time and funding by using Sapphire’s digital volunteer system. Visit Project Homepage.

A Quick Way to Create a News Overview: Weekly Roundup

The Case Foundation shares much of the software we produce for our work to the open source ecosystem. A project which we find indispensable for keeping our team abreast of the latest news in impact investing, inclusive entrepreneurship and civic engagement is our Weekly Roundup. This tool allows our communications team to quickly and easily distribute news clips to staff via email. It scrapes metadata (title, date, publication, and description) from submitted URLs, then formats the information into a newsletter that users may organize and edit before sending. The system distributes the newsletter via SendGrid, taking a process that previously took several hours a week to produce and reduces it down to mere minutes, freeing up our staff time for other work. Visit Project Homepage.

The open source ecosystem contains a wealth of software and technical expertise, and we are happy to see so many join together to unleash that potential for nonprofits and foundations. The projects highlighted here are just a sampling of what can be achieved with this kind of collaboration, and we look forward to continuing to shine the light on opportunities for open source to be used to the benefit of the social sector.