NOSI Mission Statement
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As information technology becomes increasingly important in the nonprofit world, more and more nonprofits are hindered by the limits of current software. Many organizations are unable to find software that meets their unique needs, can evolve as their work does, and is affordable. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that few nonprofits can afford to hire enough skilled computer staff to develop or modify software to solve their problems. Consequently, nonprofits too often find themselves at the mercy of software vendors who do not have the best interests of the sector in mind.
Open source software and the open source development model represent a heretofore-unrealized opportunity for the nonprofit sector to develop, disseminate, and provide support for software in a way that addresses nonprofits' particular needs and constraints.
However, nonprofits have not yet taken full advantage of the opportunities afforded by open source. In part this is because the nonprofit community is relatively uninformed about the world of open source. But it is also because the open source community was designed to serve its own members' needs, which do not always overlap with those of others in the nonprofit community. Open source developers excel at producing powerful, stable software. Less attention is paid to ensuring that software is easy to use, or to developing tutorials and documentation, or to providing support to less technical users. In addition, open source applications are more likely to be designed to serve the needs of a commercial environment, and less likely to incorporate features and functionality that address nonprofit's unique operational needs.
NOSI aims to bridge the gap between the nonprofit and open source communities. We envision a world in which nonprofits are an integral part of the open source community and in which technology development for the nonprofit sector is open, interoperable, useable, sustainable, and minimizes total cost of ownership.
To realize our vision, NOSI will initially focus on four broad strategies:
Educate the nonprofit sector about the benefits of open source, and educate the open source community about nonprofit culture and needs;
Provide concrete resources in the form of software, documentation and training materials to provide better access to open source software and expertise to nonprofit technology staff, consultants and end users;
Build communities of interest—both online and on land, involving diverse stake holders—each actively addressing aspects of nonprofit open source development; and
Disseminate existing community-based standards relating to data models and protocols, so that all aspects of nonprofit open source technology development can be leveraged for maximum public benefit.
In the development and implementation of each of these strategies, NOSI will strive to embody the values that overlap the heart of both nonprofit and open source communities: excellence, collaboration, practicality, generosity, integrity, and the volunteer ethic.
Additional strategies and tactics may be adopted in the future. However, NOSI's primary goal will be to evangelize the "conditions of synchronicity"—the environment—that will make rapid adoption of open source software and practices by nonprofits possible.
[For more information about NOSI, visit their website.]