How NGOs Can Navigate the Shift from Proprietary to Open Source

Perspectives from the OASIS Summit 2023 session led by Frappe founder Rushabh Mehta, Swapnil Agarwal, co-founder of Dhwani Rural Information Systems & Gram Vaani CEO Vijay Sai Pratap

 · 2 min read

Photo by Shahadat Rahman on Unsplash

Free and open source software (FOSS) is a great option for non-profits. Primarily, because it is free. Secondly, NGOs can customise it to suit their needs. However, people often think of open source software as difficult to use. This is because FOSS is largely created by developers, for developers. User-friendly FOSS tools must become the norm. They have to be as good as the proprietary software that people are accustomed to using. That is the only way these tools can be adopted more widely.

NGOs can start by writing down their current processes and challenges or barriers while executing those processes. Once ths step is done, they can move to software or tool discovery phase. One good way to figure out which tool to use is to talk to peers, those who have walked the walk before them. Or they could use forums like to post their question/thought and get feedback from the community. Usually, other have encountered the same challenges. This will help them decide whether they want to use FOSS, and which FOSS tools to choose.

Often, organisations are led to believe that they need to "create" their own software to meet their needs. This could not be farther from the truth when you look at the abundance of FOSS tools available on the Internet, to meet almost every need.

Create bespoke solutions

One thing NGOs need to focus on is finding the right service provider. Someone who can handhold them to leverage the software for their particular problems. While there is a lot of open source code freely available, this means nothing to the end user. Until it can be made usable to them. This is where the service provider steps in, making the software or tool user-ready.

Often, NGOs may need only a few features of a certain software. In this case, it just means that this particular software is not the right fit for them. Do some more research, ask for guidance in tech forums, and find the right software for the components you want to build. Maybe there is a better FOSS tool out there that for you!

Aikyam Fellows Blog

Learn more about Aikyam Fellows

No comments yet.

Add a comment
Ctrl+Enter to add comment