If you’re one of the thousands of organizations using the Salesforce Foundation’s open source Nonprofit Starter Pack, you have a good understanding of the great features and power that comes under the hood. It’s one of the world’s best fundraising apps sitting atop one of the best cloud platforms, and it’s improving every day.
For some of you, open source software might be a new and somewhat mysterious concept. Luckily, there’s a not-so-well-kept secret to but the immense power of it is what enables so many fabulous organizations to use the Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP): you have the power to contribute to it and make it better. The question is, how?
In a recent blog post, I spoke about ushering in a new era of open source evangelism, and most specifically, I pointed to the NPSP as a terrific example of open source done right within a corporate foundation. The benefits of an open source application are immense, but the best outcome for a community like our nonprofit sector is that each of us can learn from the lessons of fellow organizations, and contribute to an application that can be made better by each of our efforts. In doing so, we can lower total costs of ownership, increase effectiveness within our organizations, and in the end continue to support the social change we seek.
Your organization’s efforts are critical to this success, and here’s some easy ways you can help your fellow organization in their use of the NPSP.
1) Share your knowledge (and questions) in discussions
The Nonprofit Salesforce Practitioners Google Group is one of the best places to share your ideas and questions, and even better, to answer those questions by others. This community is one of the kindest software user group communities I’ve seen, and everyone, from newbies to experts, are welcomed. Pull up a virtual chair, and share your ideas to making the NPSP better.
2) Contribute ideas for features and improvements
No software solution can be improved without ideas from its community, and the NPSP is no different. Since the NPSP is shared on a code repository service called GitHub, it’s actually pretty easy for you to submit you bug requests and feature requests to the community and the Salesforce Foundation. One of the easiest ways is to hop into the NPSP GitHub repository’s issue section, and submit away! If you find a bug, be sure that many others have seen it as well. Report it! No bugs get fixed if they’re not reported, so do your community duty and report early and often.
3) Create your own local community discussions
Contributing to an open source project is supposed to be equal parts fun, rewarding, and challenging. And like most other lessons learned in life, working with friends to reach a common goal makes the journey even more enjoyable. If you’re in a metro area, consider reaching out to other nonprofit Salesforce users to come together to discuss your challenges and ideas, and start determining ways your local community can contribute. To start, if you’re in the DC area, and looking to talk about the NPSP, definitely contact me!
4) Write code, squash bugs, and teach others
If you’re a developer, get ready to make a lot of new friends. Open source software thrives on gift giving through software code, and the NPSP enables this through the GitHub repository. Folks like Kevin Bromer and others at the Salesforce Foundation are more than happy to receive your pull request (geek-speak for “hey, check out my code and consider it for the NPSP!”), and your contribution could be the ram that knocks down an important barrier to entry for a fellow nonprofit.
So there you have it, four ways you can get involved in contributing to the NPSP. And this is just the starting point! Documentation, training materials, translations, report building, dashboard building, and more. If you’re interested in learning more about contributing to the NPSP or open source community building in general, drop me a line!
Want to learn more about the Salesforce Nonprofit Start Pack? Come to our introductory session on the NPSP at PICnet’s DC offices on Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 9am ET for a free overview!
Psst…want to get in on some secrets about nonprofit tech strategy, the innovations we’re building, and how folks are rockin’ their worlds by putting it all to use?
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