The Non-Profit FOSS Institute (NPFI) is a 501(c)(3) organization that supports the development and customization of free and open source software (FOSS) products to fit the needs of individual non-profit organizations.

Many of these products are developed and customized by student teams during 1-semester software development courses.  Others are developed by NPFI itself.  All NPFI software is provided freely to the non-profits.  Click here for a list of these products and their non-profit recipients.

When a student team does the customization, the instructor collaborates with the non-profit in advance to identify the software need and develop requirements that will guide the student project.  Throughout the development period, the students collaborate with the non-profit using an agile methodology that we call “client-oriented FOSS,” or CO-FOSS.

When the project is completed, the team delivers the software to a professional software developer who ensures that the software is of high quality and installs it on the non-profit’s server.  The professional also serves as a resource should a problem arise with the software in the future.

NPFI’s role in this process includes one or more of the following:

  • Helping a non-profit identify an outmoded clerical activity (e.g., volunteer scheduling) that new custom web-based software could replace.
  • Developing a requirements document for a 2-3 month project that would customize an existing open source software product to replace that activity.
  • Either finding an instructor/student team who would perform that customization, or performing that customization directly.
  • Providing grant support for the instructor to configure and teach a software development course modeled around such a project.
  • Finding a professional software developer to deploy and support the software after the students are finished.

NPFI’s unique CO-FOSS approach to software development contributes to both the education of future computer professionals and the inventory of software customized especially for use by non-profit organizations. Because the software is free and open source (FOSS), its source code and documentation are freely available for re-customization to fit the needs of other non-profits.