Archive for the 'nonprofit' Category

MobileTech for Social Change

This looks to be an exciting barcamp – Mobile Tech for Social Change.  I’m going, partly out of general interest (I’ve been fascinated by mobile technology for a while, particularly what the rest of the world is accomplishing ahead of the U.S.).  I’m also going because I want to support the Openmoko movement.

I’ll put aside my raised eyebrows at  $25 barcamp (it goes to food, apparently) – but the fact that there is no link to the wiki from the registration page is a little clunky.  Get the real deal at the wiki.


Every Human Has Rights

Every Human Has Rights Media AwardsWe (AF83) are supporting Internews launch an international support campaign for the journalists who risk their lives every day to bring you news about the current state of human rights around the world.  A people’s choice award (voting starts Nov 1st) will be given along with other media awards.

Given we are supporting this campaign in a Web2.0 world, you can follow the progress of this campaign via our Twitter feed, through MySpace, and even on FaceBook and Care2.  You can add a banner to your site.

Please join us in supporting human rights, and supporting the journalists who are on the ground every day, bringing us the news of the current state of human rights.

(Having cut my tech teeth in the nonprofit world for a decade, it’s good to be back in the realm of supporting social causes….)

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Drupal’N’Go – Case Study


Last weekend, my company’s Paris office helped run “Drupal’N’Go”, a BarCamp/WineCamp style Drupal barn-raising.  The idea was to select a worthy nonprofit organization, and build an entire webiste for them.

How did it turn out?  DrupalFrance community member jlndrr posted this feedback (in English, French version here).

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Ah, makes me proud. The French Drupal community (of which my current employer AF83 is a core supporter) is taking the WineCamp style models, and going to host a DrupalCamp with the specific goal to barn-raise a Drupal website for one lucky French NGO. It’s called, in a smart blend of pun and brand, Drupal’N’Go.

(There is discussion whether this is specific to NGOs, or French non-profits in general. Regardless of specific designation, I think the idea is to pick an organization that supports a broader social good instead of a local sports org, which could also be a nonprofit).

A few of the breadcrumbs that led here:

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Copier leases: A few experiences and thoughts

I just finished a renewal of our school’s copier lease, and it was an illuminating process, given that I didn’t know much about copiers and the leasing of before this.

Our school has two copiers – one big “spaceship” style copier that can handle color, multiple paper sizes, three-hole punch, and “saddle-stitch” – i.e. creating bound booklets.  Our second copier is a regular black-and-white copier.

We had two major beefs with our current copier lease company: 

  1. Response time was supposed to be 4-6 hours, but we had increasing delays, up to 8 hours in some cases.  And often what would happen is an agent would arrive, and 15 minutes later declare “Parts are on order, I’ll be back in X days.”
  2. We had an per-machine copy quota system.  On the simple b/w copier, our lease included 18k copies a year, on the large multi-use one, 380k.  However, because of location, the b/w copier was used far more than the other copier, and we got hit with massive overage charges – even though we were twice as much under quota for copies on the large machine.

In reviewing copier lease offerings from small to large shops (including Canon, IKON and Konica-Minolta), I discovered several things:

  • The differentiation among machines is nominal.  Really, unless you’re waaay copy-geek, every company offers machines that will pretty much do the same thing.  Of course, you have to figure out whether faxing from the copier or add’l security system is worth it for you, but you can find equivalent machines across the board.
  • Many leases will be offered for 60 months (5 years).  Our experience – making 400k copies a year on two machines – is that 36 months (3 years) is as far as we could take the machines without having a service person living on-site.
  • Leases are divided into equipment cost, and service.  Equipment costs will be spread over the lease period (in our case, 36 months) with an additional percentage thrown in (since essentially what you are doing is borrowing money from the lease-holding company to pay for the machines).  Yes, this adds to the cost, but is ultimately the only way most smaller companies (and restricted income organizations like non-profits and schools) can afford them.
  • Several leases I saw had great monthly equipment rates, but had a purchase requirement at the end of the lease – essentially, you would be required to pony up about $2k-$3k for the “fair market value” of the copier, at the exact time when it is most useless to you.  We asked for a “$1 buyout” lease – that means they readjust the monthly pricing so that at the end of the lease, we pay $1 and the machine is ours.  Monthly price goes up, but not by a huge amount.  Of course, we’re left with the same problem – now we have a machine we don’t want.  Typically, you can donate or sell these machines for a few hundred dollars for another organization that is even harder up.  (But it’s like donated computer equipment – I would advise any recipient against purchasing something like that).
  • One interesting lease option I saw from IKON was the equivalent to a “rental” – there was no buyout, dollar or fair market value.  The monthly price was a rental price, and at the end of the lease, IKON picked up the machine and took it back.  That’s convenient.
  • Then there’s service and maintenance.  Mostly, service and maintenance was comprehensive – maintenance, troubleshooting labor, parts and toner all included.  Typically the only thing not included was paper and staples. 
  • Most of the maintenance quotes I saw were based on our proposed copying quota.  (Most companies were willing to institute a “organizational” quota, as opposed to a per-machine quota).  So if our proposed copy quota went up or down, so did the proposed maintenance costs – makes sense.  Typically, there was a “per-copy” charge for copies made beyond that quota; and there were opportunities to readjust the quota (and thus the monthly service fee) once a year, or even once a quarter if you discovered you were making far more or far less than you expected.
  • One quote I received, however, had no quota.  They charged per copy out of the gate.  If you sat down and did the math, based on our proposed quota, the average monthly fee came out about the same, but this was never an option we would want.  First, there was no way to predict how much our monthly fee would be (it could change by hundreds of dollars form one month to the next).  Also, towards the end of the year, when we are cash poor, we put on several events as well as send out renewal forms and acceptance letters – all heavy copy work, and not an expense bump we’d want to see at that time of year.

I leave you to sift through your own proposals and eager salespeople.  I am glad to say we chose a local company that’s been in business for over 100 years, that used to be called Typewritorium…..

eDemocracyCamp in DC!

I’ve been so busy focusing on, amongst other things, DrupalCon that I totally missed mentioning eDemocracyCamp, happening this weekend in Washington D.C. Good friend in the BarCamp, WineCamp and i18n / translation world Tim Bonnemann is one of the organizers.


“The place for innovators, optimists, and engaged citizens. March 2, 2008 in Washington, DC

We are building off the momentum of the 2008 Politics Online Conference
which always draws a spectacular crowd. If you are coming into town for one of these events you should definitely check out the other one in order to make the most of your time here in DC.

eDemocracyCamp will be the first BarCamp with a focus specifically on e-democracy. eDemocracyCamp will connect citizens, researchers, developers, practitioners and anyone else interested in the topic to learn about the current state of e-democracy and share their visions for its future direction.”

Open source CMS – for arts orgs!

I’m behind the curve on this one – as usual.  The Center for Arts Management and Technology – who run an excellent arts and technology conference – have recently (well, recently to me, at least) launched a free, hosted open-source CMS service for arts organizations, based on your choice of DotNetNuke or Drupal.  (At first glance, it looks like an arts version of CivicSpace OnDemand.  )

My immediate thoughts:

  1. Bravo!
  2. Good luck!

Hosting templatable CMS websites is a great idea – and can work – as long as the users accept the limitations of the design and the system.  But it does not take long for any organization to want to grow out of a template website design, and to hear about all the amazing cool awesome things that open-source CMS’s like Drupal can do, and we want that too!  (Just ask the folks at CSoD….)

Nonetheless, this is a great step forward for arts orgs, and CAMT. I mean, part of me wants the job of managing that system.  (Yes, the masochistic but altruistic part of me.  :-))

A tip of the hat to prodigious and prolific nonprofit tech blogger Beth Kanter for this.  Her blog may not have been the source, but she deserves a tip of the hat anyway.  😉

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