Building an open technology cooperative


Open technology is a project aimed at forming a technology cooperative for nonprofit, community, and coop groups. Using and developing free, open source software, the coop will be a shared web technology department for member groups, providing expert advice, support, and solutions on a nonprofit basis.

Why an open technology cooperative?

The idea is to connect a gap with a solution.

The gap: Many low resourced organizations are being shut out of web technologies.

  • Free, open source software is revolutionizing the options for online communication, fundraising, and engagement. But many groups are still left out. Smaller organizations face barriers accessing technology advice and service.
  • Yes, there are services like and Facebook. But these technologies are shaped to the priorities of their corporate owners. Organizations can't shape them to their own aims and face inevitable tradeoffs.
  • Rather than getting more affordable to small groups, open source solutions are getting more expensive as projects like Wordpress, Drupal, and Joomla pursue enterprise clients.
  • Technology moves so fast that small organizations are left behind when required upgrades mean they can't afford to keep up.

The solution: Open Outreach is a free software specially designed to empower community organizations.

  • This initiative comes out of the Open Outreach project, which for three years has provided free online software to nonprofit and community groups. Find out more about Open Outreach.
  • Over 200 websites are powered by the Open Outreach software.
  • Building on this track record, we want to create an organization that will empower groups to pool their resources to create and cultivate shared technology solutions.
  • A tech coop would do more than Open Outreach. But having an established software in house would be a big leg up and provide a solid foundation to a startup cooperative.

A cooperative offers the structure for groups to work together for mutual benefit, enabling organizations to be active participants in their technology solutions. Read more about cooperatives and why we're thinking this form is the right fit. Or join the discussion: is a coop the right structure?

Through membership, organizations will be able to:

  • Access dedicated support.
  • Pool resources to develop new features.
  • Access shared hosting solutions.
  • Both provide and receive mentorship and in-kind support from other organizations.

Read more on what we hope to provide.

Where we are now

We're just getting going. Like any startup effort, there's a lot of planning to do before we can decide if a coop is feasible. Check out our startup timeline for current planning.

How you can join

We need your ideas and contributions! Whether you're a volunteer or staffperson, techie or "newbie", we want to hear from you. Register with this site and post your ideas and comments in the forum. Or just email us through the contact form. Let's get it going!