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Engaging nonprofits: why free software is essential to the social good

Wendy Bolm

Many nonprofits today are at a disadvantage in the software they use to manage everything from donor management to graphic design. Staff members are often not focused on acquiring the best digital resources, and overcomplicated, restrictive, and expensive software programs dominate the nonprofit market. Free software could provide a much-needed revolution for the nonprofit world.

The good news is that some nonprofits are beginning to work with other organizations and free software developers and communities to start solving common problems.

In this session, I will review some tangible ways in which free software is having and can have a positive impact on the nonprofit world, and some of the challenges nonprofits face both with current software available and in getting involved. I will then discuss strategies for advocating for free software for nonprofits. With nonprofits across the globe facing issues of censorship, privacy concerns, and the need for more financial freedom than ever before, this is the perfect time for nonprofits to embrace free software.


1 year, 7 months ago

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LibrePlanet 2018 video · LibrePlanet 2018 · LibrePlanet · lp2018 · video

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LibrePlanet 2018 Videos and Slides (libreplanet)


CC BY-SA 4.0


This talk was presented at LibrePlanet.


LibrePlanet is the Free Software Foundation's annual conference. The FSF campaigns for free/libre software, meaning it respects users' freedom and community. We believe that users are entitled to this; all software should be free.


We do not advocate "open source".

That term was coined to reject our views. It refers to similar practices, but usually presented solely as advantageous, without talking of right and wrong.


Richard Stallman launched the free software movement in 1983 by announcing development of the free operating system, GNU. By 1992, GNU was nearly operational; one major essential component was lacking, the kernel.


In 1992, Torvalds freed the kernel Linux, which filled the last gap in GNU. Since then, the combined GNU/Linux system has run in millions of computers. Nowadays you can buy a new computer with a totally free GNU/Linux system preinstalled.


The views of the speaker may not represent the Free Software Foundation. The Foundation supports the free software cause and freedom to share, and basic freedoms in the digital domain, but has no position on other political issues.