Thursday, November 05, 2009

Open organizations

(Photo from Boboroshi, Flickr, Creative Commons)

Thanks to an email from Martin Kaminer I just read about PresenTense's open source efforts over at Community Organizer 2.0. According to the post, PresenTense, an organization focused on building the Jewish community's next generation of pioneers and innovators, open sources much of its programming and advisory roles. Community Organizer 2.0 quotes PresenTense's founder @ArielBeery as saying:
"The PresenTense Group calls itself an “open source organization." Co-founder Ariel Beery defines an Open Source Organization as one that “enables all members to add to it, change it, modify it and improve it. Everyone benefits from the intellectual property of the organization’s members. The whole point is to make it as collaborative and idea-generated as possible.”
PresenTense also posts quarterly reports (annual reports are so web 1.0). The example of PresenTense dovetails nicely with the dashboard examples @Kanter shares in this post, including the work of the Indianapolis Art Museum. Christine Egger (@cdegger) has done a nice job of tracking several related conversations about data, transparency, and open organizations in this post on the SocialActions blog. From comments across these links I get the strong sense that both SocialActions and NTEN are thinking hard about these issues - in terms of developing actual standards, developing tools for best practice, and for prompting real thought about the roles of nonprofit organizations in helping make sense of all the data we can now access.

This is exciting. We may have moved past rhetoric and hypothesis to real examples we can discuss and learn from. We can also ask some big questions about the future, like those on this must-read post from Scott Hartley on SSIR. I'm sure that someone is tracking examples of nonprofits and foundations sharing data in new and interesting ways (right? someone?) - I'd love to see that slide show. Here are some contributions to the list:
Those noted above: PresenTense, Indianapolis Museum of Art

Those I've mentioned before: Peery Foundation open source strategic planning, Lumina Foundation sharing of strategic plans and objectives.

Stories of crowdsourced giving from ModernGiving's list: Knight News Challenge,
Phil Bucheit's crowdsourcing of ideas for donor advised giving.

Others....? Send 'em in [in comments or email lucy at blueprintrd dot com]. We'll track them here if no one else is already keeping the list. If you know where the list is being kept, please let us know.


Lucy Bernholz said...

So I hit the "post" button, sent this up to the web, checked my email, and learned about @AshokaTech's competition for a blogger to cover their conference in Hyderabad. I love this idea - mixes openness and crowdsourcing in so many ways. Here's the info - - and may the best blogger win!

Add to list: @ashoka, @ashokatech Blog your way to Hyderabad contest

Debra Askanase said...

Lucy - Great idea! I believe that this must be the future of organizations (the reason for the blog post itself), and I look forward to one day soon having enough examples to view a slide deck on this. I'm going to try to get this conversation going everywhere that I present, and hopefully this will engender even better ideas of how to use technology to open source/crowdsource and include, which is a specific interest of mine.

Thanks for putting all these different posts from the web sphere together. It's wild that all of us were percolating similar ideas at the same time. I am truly glad to be part of this conversation. Thanks so much!

Hildy Gottlieb said...

An crowdsourcing / transparency example close to home. The Community-Driven Institute is in the process of separating from our consulting firm, to become its own entity. We are in the process of deciding, "Should we be a separate tax exempt org, or consider fiscal sponsorship?"

So we put the question out to the world. We asked at Twitter and Facebook and at the Institute's Facebook Group. We also put the question out to everyone who has been through our courses, as they all become part of the inner workings of the Institute the moment they participate in the class. And I'm about to blog about it.

We figure if "the wisdom is in the room," then there is no risk in transparency - only upside!

(And BTW if anyone has any thoughts about this issue, please join the discussion at Facebook. We really really really want pros and cons for each!)

Lucy Bernholz said...

Thanks for sharing this living example - I hope you get all the feedback and expertise you need.


Lucy Bernholz said...

Wonderful to "meet" you and I hope you gather all kinds of insights from the speaking gigs. Those could be great sources for a list/slide deck/ whole new field....I understand there is some interesting discussion underway at the Independent Sector conference about nonprofit operations - might be good to check into those conversations...podcast, twitter...


Anonymous said...

Wow, it's great to see two fantastic people connect.

I have a slideshow on open organizations or transparency or at least part of one -- from the keynote I gave last week at NMC. I'm working up some examples for another presentation in a couple of weeks and will share.

Anonymous said...

Wow, it's great to see two fantastic people connect.

I have a slideshow on open organizations or transparency or at least part of one -- from the keynote I gave last week at NMC. I'm working up some examples for another presentation in a couple of weeks and will share.

Lucy Bernholz said...

Another example of crowdsourcing - GLOBALWA - a network of global development orgs based in WA state is crowdsourcing ideas for its Blueprint for Action

Lucy Bernholz said...

Here's another example of networks that work, data as a platform for change, and open data:

Lucy Bernholz said...

Here are two more, one of which should have been listed originally:

SocialActions - which does all of its programming out in the open, sharing information through Google docs.

And a new find, courtesy of @EllnMllr and the Sunlight FOundation:

The Open Forum Foundation

Whose goal is "responsive government" and who share operational items, programming goals, board minutes, fundraising goals, etc. right there on the website.

Unknown said...

Look to grassroots membership organizations, which have made their activities, finances, leadership, priorities, etc transparent and inclusive for generations. Bringing more technology to the process is great, but I feel like a lot of the lessons learned have been lost because people forget transparency and community organizing existed before the internet.

Sloane said...

I'm so glad I "rediscovered" your blog. I used to read it all the time, but this past year I've been doing field work and experiencing technology in the developing world and how that can be very challenging at times. Most recently as a Kiva Fellow in the Philippines from June-August, there was a lot of discussion around how bringing technology into the microfinance platform worldwide could help the overall mission of poverty alleviation.

For example, some countries have developed databases for people who have loans - helping cut down on multiple loans by people thus straining their ability to repay and really crushing the system. The Philippines doesn't have this sytem and it's something I was championing.

Love to talk more about this. My blog is and I'm @sloane on twitter.