[COMM-ORG] query: web-based software for organizers

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Mon Feb 16 20:54:23 CST 2009

[ed:  thanks to Al and Nadine for responding to Lane's query.]

From: Al Boss <alboss at sisypheans.org>

Hi, Lane.

I work with about a hundred or so others on Phil Bartle's excellent 
all-volunteer Community Empowerment project (http://www.scn.org/cmp/). 
Building community and collaboration among translators across dozens of 
countries, from all walks of life, working in over a dozen languages, 
and holding their interest when we can't promise them fame, fortune, or 
even face-to-face contact, is quite the challenge.

We use Facebook. We can control access, who sees what, who joins, etc., 
we have a wealth of collaborative tools, and the work environment is 
interesting enough that people hang around. We get a fair amount of 
spontaneity and serendipity just out of having such a non-traditional 
workspace, so to speak. It reminds me of my former employer that had no 
offices and held all its company meetings in cafes and coffee houses. We 
lingered more and collaborated much better than we did over conference 
tables in cube farms and sterilized office towers.

I don't know how that idea will go over with your employer (or with you, 
for that matter). Most university administrators, government entities, 
businesses and nonprofits would be horrified at the idea. No control, 
too easy for information to get out of hand, everyone will be spending 
their time being unproductive and distracted, etc. Same objections as 
were made with giving people Web access, and email before that, and 
telephones at their desks before that, and windows in their offices, and 
so on back to paintings on the cave walls.

As with any concerns, there's something to this one as well. Our 
collective project is unusually blessed with committed volunteers who 
have the ability to use a social media like Facebook for collaborative 
work purposes without taking a hit on how much work we get done. We 
might be a special case, but it's been my experience that the average 
person can be trusted to not spend their day goofing off just because 
they've been given a tool that could be used to that end.

Good luck! I'm looking forward to hearing what you find out, and what 
you decide on.


Al Boss


From: Nadine <anacaona at gmail.com>

I'd go with CiviCRM:

The Open Source Solution for the Civic Sector
CiviCRM is an open source and freely downloadable constituent
relationship management solution. CiviCRM is web-based, open source,
internationalized, and designed specifically to meet the needs of
advocacy, non-profit and non-governmental groups. Integration with
both Drupal and Joomla! content management systems gives you the tools
to connect, communicate and activate your supporters and constituents.

It also works as a standalone server, and you can also comes with:
- civiCONTRIBUTE (Online fundraising and donor management.)
- civiEVENT (Online event registration and participant tracking.)
- civiMEMBER (Online signup and membership management)
- civiMAIL (Personalized email blasts and newsletters.).

If you don't have a web developer yet, I'd suggest Koumbit. They're a
worker's coop based in Montreal specialized in developing open-source
web solutions for non-profits. (www.koumbit.net).

Good luck!


On 2/10/2009 1:34 PM, Discussion list for COMM-ORG wrote:
> --------
> This is a COMM-ORG 'colist' message.
> All replies to this message come to COMM-ORG only.
> --------
> [ed:  please feel welcomed to copy COMM-ORG with replies to Lane's
> query.  A bit from me below.]
> From: "Victorson, Lane A." <LVICTORSON at ssw.umaryland.edu>
> Hello,
> I know I have seen questions about technology for organizers and I tried
> to hit on some of the technology and support resource links which ended
> in error messages. But none-the-less it might be beneficial to hear from
> you what you might be using currently.
> What I'm looking for is web-based software (so the whole staff can
> access it from various locations) that can act as a community phone book
> in a way, housing basic contact information and in addition a simple
> notes feature allowing for attachments where we can track info for each
> resident that notates interactions, highlights leadership potential,
> areas of strength and interest, etc. It can be pretty bare bones and
> simplistic.  Ideally a report out feature would be nice.  I am aware of
> constant contact, but that seems to be more of a marketing outward
> thing...what I am looking for is an internal user friendly database,
> preferably easy to use and inexpensive- long shot maybe?
> Lane Victorson
> Baltimore
> [ed:  the Organizers Database http://www.organizersdb.org/, is on
> offline option to look at.  Online, the movement now is toward content
> management systems or CMSs, which are basically systems for managing
> interactive websites with forums, file management, and contact
> management.  An increasing number of these systems have contact
> management plugins or features.  For organizations with an existing
> website, the organizations that provides your website may already have
> some of these options that you can access.  If not, you may search out a
> new provider who can offer such a system.  There are so many options
> right now that it may be easier to talk directly with your website
> provider than to look for a provider that offers a particular system.]
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