The Non-Profit FOSS Institute (NPFI) is a 501(c)(3) organization that supports the development of customized free and open source software (FOSS) applications that directly benefit non-profit organizations.
NPFI’s work focuses on forming triads, or partnerships between an undergraduate instructor/student team, a non-profit organization, and a software professional. Using the CO-FOSS development model, each triad develops and deploys a custom software product that addresses a mission-critical need for the non-profit. NPFI’s role includes:
- Supporting an undergraduate instructor, whose computer science class develops a customized FOSS product to meet the needs of a local non-profit organization.
- Helping the non-profit identify an existing paper-based or outmoded system that could be replaced by student-developed software.
- Identifying a software developer to deploy and support that software after the course is finished
Early examples of successful NPFI-inspired software projects at Bowdoin College include a 2008 volunteer scheduling system (Homebase), a 2011 room scheduling system (Homeroom), and a 2012 food donation recording and reporting system (Homeplate).
Recent examples of the viability and portability of this approach to other colleges and universities include 2012-2014 adaptations of Homeroom at St John’s University, a 2015 adaptation of Homebase at Whitman College, and a 2016 non-profit community web site at Green River College.
NPFI projects contribute to both the education of future computer professionals and the inventory of free open source software that addresses the needs of non-profit organizations. Because these projects develop free and open source software (FOSS), all source code and documentation is freely available for reuse by other CO-FOSS projects.