Charities, open source and new ideas: an Open-Charity meeting

A few weeks ago, I went along to a meet up called Open-Charity.org – a gathering of ICT managers, business analysts and more from the charity sector who use open source software for their business needs.

Also along for the meet-up were some digital creatives (I’m including myself in that even though I don’t actually create or design anything!) who use Drupal and other open source technologies in their day-to-day businesses.

The idea behind OpenCharity is a good one: charities and suppliers getting together and sharing their knowledgebase so that other charities can replicate the successes and avoid the mistakes of others.

As I’m new to Manifesto and new to the charity sector this was a great meet-up to attend as I have never worked with charitable organisations before. I got to meet some lovely people and I learned an awful lot about charities and what they need from companies like Manifesto.

We discussed open source software I was previously aware of and have a small amount of experience of, like Drupal and WordPress. But it was great to learn some new programs I had never heard of before, like CiviCRM, Pentaho and Asterisk.

So what is open source software?

Well, the open source movement originated in computer software development and meant that the design and code of a program was publicly accessible and could be edited by anybody.

Nowadays, it’s more about the collaboration and sharing of code, the open exchange of information and providing transparency. Peer review is crucial to this as it reduces bugs and glitches and stops bad code from being written into a program.

New people and exciting new projects

Not only was it a chance to meet like-minded people pooling resources, there were also 2 presentations.

The first was from Jim South from Leukemia and Lymphoma Research on the benefits of open source software.

The other was from Lucas Löbker, a student from Rotterdam’s University of Applied Sciences (and our wonderful intern). Lucas presented his university thesis project FitFund to the group.

His idea is to use already existing wearable tech to motivate employees to get fit by creating leaderboards. The idea is that your bosses pay an agreed fee to the chosen charity for every kilometer you have run in a given week. Win-win really! I think it’s a great idea and I hope it takes off.

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