Open Outreach

The Open Outreach software puts a powerful, usable, and affordable web technology directly in the hands of low resourced nonprofit organizations and community groups.

Based on the open source software Drupal, Open Outreach provides a bunch of great functionality that groups often have to pay a lot for: event management, a contact management system--see the list of Open Outreach features. It also comes with detailed and user friendly documentation.

The free Open Outreach software now powers somewhere over 200 websites--see a few of them in the site showcase. Our adopters and contributors range from many small organizations to Drupal shops and hosting providers to a university-based mapping initiative and a new distribution planned with Open Outreach as a base.

All that's great, but we've only just begun.

For its first three years, Open Outreach has lived on the side of the desk at a small Drupal shop, Chocolate Lily. In between our paid work (and often instead of it!), we poured volunteer time into building out a platform to meet the needs of the organizations we felt were left out of the so called tech revolution.

That three year incubation period was necessary and valuable--but for its continued evolution Open Outreach now needs an organizational home.

We're hardly unique here. It's a common pattern with community open source projects. First there's a period where a small number of developers put in the time to get something going. Then - when it's more than an idea and you've actually got a working piece of software - it's time to put some structure in place.

To take the next steps, we want to create an organizational home for Open Outreach.

For the project to sustainably meet its goals in the long term, we need to ensure:

  • Costs of adoption and upgrading remain low. That means in particular ensuring that there are good options beyond the version 7 release cycle of Drupal, on which Open Outreach is based.
  • We improve outreach and visibility of Open Outreach to potential new users.
  • We address hosting issues as a main barrier to adoption.
  • High quality and updated documentation and support are available.
  • Users can pool funds to support the costs of updates and further development.

Following a review process and community engagement earlier in the year, we're now digging into founding an organizational home for Open Outreach.

A tech coop will be about a lot more than just Open Outreach. But by having the Open Outreach software and developers "in house", coop members will be able truly to achieve their goals with technology that's their own.