knowledge of how to combine is the mother of all other forms of knowledge

If you run an Association, volunteer, join in, help, learn and participate – well – at Tendenci we think you are kind of a BIG DEAL! It’s easy at times to lose sight of the bigger picture when you are on the board of directors and planning the details for a fundraiser.  Please remember – we need you, we appreciate you, and YOUR CAUSE IS WORTH IT.

Alexis de ToquevilleI get asked why Tendenci is Open Source. My reply is to point to the role of associations in society.  The role of associations, your association management system as well, are both too important to survive the conflict of interest with purely commercial solutions. To clarify why this is so important to me, and I believe you, I can only quote those far more educated and eloquent then myself.

Alexis du Tocqueville viewed civil society as the third leg of the stool that allows democracies to function.

Americans of all ages, all stations of life, and all types of disposition are forever forming associations… In democratic countries knowledge of how to combine is the mother of all other forms of knowledge; on its progress depends that of all the others.

and further

Americans combine to give fêtes, found seminaries, build churches, distribute books, and send missionaries to the antipodes. Hospitals, prisons, and schools take shape in that way. Finally, if they want to proclaim a truth or propagate some feeling by the encouragement of a great example, they form an association.

In every case, at the head of any new undertaking, where in France you would find the government or in England some territorial magnate, in the United States you are sure to find an association…. I have often admired the extreme skill they show in proposing a common object for the exertions of very many and in inducing them voluntarily to pursue it.

Alexis du Tocqueville, Democracy in America (source)

Back in 1995 Senator Bill Bradley wrote “Democracy’s Third Leg.” and he described it in a similar manner.

CIVIL society is the place where Americans make their home, sustain their marriages, raise their families, hang out with their friends, meet their neighbors, educate their children, worship their God.

It lies apart from the realms of the market and the government, and possesses a different ethic.

and

Civil society, on the other hand, is the sphere of our most basic humanity — the personal, everyday realm that is governed by values such as responsibility, trust, fraternity, solidarity, and love.

…. There must also be a healthy, robust civic sector — a space in which the bonds of community can flourish. Government and the market are similar to two legs on a three-legged stool. Without the third leg of civil society, the stool is not stable and cannot provide support for a vital America.

Maya Angelou wrote one of my favorite poems which I believe relates. It is “A Brave and Startling Truth.”

Maya Angelou is of course a giant not just of our time, but of all time. She speaks of greatness in the form of unity and love. That is what Civil Society does. Associations, churches, clubs, political movements … all of these things are simply too important to our planet to NOT be open source. And we will come to it. YOU and your AMS software are too important to be locked in or cut off if a proprietary vendor chooses.

Quoting Senator Bill Bradley’s piece again, he states:

The language of the marketplace says, ”Get as much as you can for yourself.” The language of government says, ”Legislate for others what is good for them.” But the language of community, family, and citizenship at its core is about receiving undeserved gifts.

Building the Tendenci AMS community Open Source – giving you control – is how I handle the brutal truth that “we must confess that we are the possible. we are the miraculous.”

#peace

 

What NPO Software Success Really Looks Like

This image came up as a topic of conversation in a meeting we had this morning and I wanted to share it. It is a pretty accurate description of the open source rewrite of Tendenci from the ground up over the last four years. And I’m pretty excited about the software moving away from the squiggly part on the right in this image from Henry Bloget’s blog post.

success
What People Think Success Looks Like Vs. What It Really Looks Like

Oh don’t worry, we’ll attack new challenges and make new squiggles which will make people think we are off track, or losing it, or “freak them out” as we get to the end of a road and go “oooops, that didn’t work.” But now we know that didn’t work.

It also reminded me of some of Hugh’s quotes in his book Not Sucking that I have always liked. For example:

THERE IS NO SECRET SAUCE

WORK HARD. LIVE QUIETLY. BE FRUGAL. SIMPLIFY. NEVER COMPLAIN. CONSTANTLY ELEVATE YOUR CRAFT.

Sure, a bit of talent and good for­tune comes in handy. It’s nice that you could draw bet­ter than any other kid in your small town, or that your parents had the money to afford ten­nis les­sons after class.

But that just gets you to the star­ting line. The actual race is what hap­pens after that, day in, day out, for many years to come.

And the ones who win, the ones who really ele­vate their craft, are gene­rally the ones who work the har­dest. Life is unfair.

People underestimate the power of hard work. I like that he simplifies it all into Creativity, Mastery and Meaning. He doesn’t lie to you about a four hour work week, or tell you you have to wear Gucci to be happy, he doesn’t even list being happy as a goal. Meaning, Mastery and Creativity are how you don’t suck. Being happy is what happens when you don’t suck. But not always, because it’s hard work.

The best way to not suck is to MASTER something use­ful. Obvious, yes?

Then he drops the story of Jiro on me. (my commentary is below this long excerpt from Hugh’s post).

The thing is, I know TONS of super suc­cess­ful peo­ple, but none of them fit this extreme, celeb-lottery-winner-Reality-TV model. Some of them are actually pretty boring, to be honest. But they lead happy, friendly lives and do VERY well career-wise.

THAT is what most suc­cess looks like, if you think about it. The stuff on TV or in the movies just isn’t REAL enough for us to learn that much use­ful stuff.

So I was thin­king about this again, recently, HARD.

What model would work for folk like you and me? A model that didn’t mean you had to sell your soul to Wall Street, Holly­wood, Washing­ton or the tabloids? A suc­cess model that doesn’t rely solely on the unli­ke­lihood of outra­geously good for­tune or acts of evil?

Then quite by chance, I saw a great docu­men­tary recently: “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”, a film about the world’s grea­test sushi mas­ter, and a light ­bulb EXPLODED in my head.

Our man, 85-year-old Jiro Ono is the world’s grea­test sushi chef– the only sushi mas­ter to ever have been awar­ded three Miche­lin stars. He’s also the oldest per­son to have ever been a reci­pient of that award.

The thing is, he doesn’t have a lot of money or own a fleet of trendy res­tau­rants in all the world’s capi­tals, a-la Wolf­gang Puck. No syn­di­ca­ted TV shows, celebrity-chef book deals or TV talk-show cir­cuits, either.

He just has just a small, plain, dull, ordi­nary-looking, low-key sushi bar with ten seats in the base­ment of a Tokyo office buil­ding, near the sub­way, the kind of non­desc­ript place you’d pro­bably just walk by without stop­ping, if you saw it. Ten seats! Yet he REALLY IS the best in the world at what he does.

Jiro works seven days a week, over 350 days a year (he hates taking vaca­tion), ser­ves sushi and sashimi to peo­ple in very small num­bers, and THAT’S IT. Just sushi. No salad, no appe­ti­zers, no deserts.

Like I said, JUST SUSHI. And by stic­king to this mini­ma­list, bare-bones for­mula, he’s become the best in the world.

A tiny little sushi bar in some ran­dom sub­way sta­tion. Yet peo­ple wait in line, peo­ple book a stool at his sushi bar as much as a year in advance, at pri­ces star­ting around $600 a head. Peo­ple have been known to fly all the way from Ame­rica or Europe, just to expe­rience a 30-minute meal. In an office basement!

I read that and felt humbled. And befuddled. And yes perhaps a bit justified.

I’m also really happy to know others are like me. I don’t particularly consider myself successful but I expect it will all work out. I have many blessings and I work with great people. I have a wonderful family. I’ve also had my share of loss and plenty of criticism, which I have learned comes with the role of CEO even for a small company (note: there are no books on how to be a CEO. You just do your damndest to learn fast!)

Hugh MacLeod

Back to Jiro. I get him. For me, I have been obsessing about one single software product called Tendenci built specifically for associations and non-profits for 13 years now. I’ve had a lot of help. I’ve never wavered nor lost the passion to keep improving it. I’m truly obsessed with making software in a way that makes our CLIENTS successful.

I started it in 2001, (the tech bubble had burst) on the premise, after reading hundreds of marketing books that clients who made money off of your software wouldn’t leave you. That they might forgive a missed deadline, but they would not forgive a security breach. That they wanted the freedom to leave at any time. So all of our clients were sold month to month, export your data and leave whenever you want. (this was before open source was an option and before PHP was around.)

What started on the Microsoft platform is now rewritten by a a great team of programmers who work here, and outsourcers, and hopefully more and more by people in the community. It is now Django/Python/Postgres and Ubuntu. We are working hard, and I am obsessing on adding donor management that integrates with Salesforce Foundation’s free licenses for non-profits. I’m completely obsessed with giving NPOs an alternative – that they can succeed on both bottom lines, financial and causes, and put more of their money and time towards the cause instead of spending 10k/user for Raiser’s Edge.

Can a 13 year old product built on Django give NPOs a real alternative to Raiser’s Edge and Blackbaud? And can it be an OPEN SOURCE product that you can integrate, extend, and experience with no vendor lock in at all? The odds are against me. And there are only 10 stools. And my obsession with achieving this success grows stronger every day, and it is not because I know anyone at Blackbaud.

I’m obsessed with collaboratively building Tendenci not because of what the software itself can do. I’m obsessed and seeking mastery because of what global-non-profits can do with the first open source Python software built specifically for them.  That is my passion.

 

 

 

 

Tendenci Open Source Donor Management Roadmap

Tendenci has come a long way since it was started in 2001. I didn’t have a choice back then so thus began (at the time – we are now open source) a proprietary system. But we work mostly with Associations and Non Profits. They/You (and I can attest first hand after volunteering with several nonprofits over the years) don’t want proprietary – you want OPEN SOURCE!

So what is our roadmap for Tendenci, now completely open source, for donor management?

I have to say we weren’t feeling the urgency on the donor management part until recently. Why? Because Blackbaud (Nasdaq BLKB) acquired Convio and removed the only viable option. And now they are shutting down Common Ground. Not cool. (Side bar: Word is Convio used to advertise “Common Ground, because we’re not Raiser’s Edge.” If that is true or not, it’s still funny and was always a comment that came up at NTEN or Techsoup meetings over the years.)

Tendenci is written in Django and Python and will remain open source. We are adding a basic GPL CRM with modifications for donor management first. More importantly we are integrating Tendenci with the Salesforce Foundation and the Non-Profit Starter pack through their open source connectors and well documented API.

The team at Tendenci is working feverishly to get full Tendenci-Salesforce integration done because we need it too!

We are prepared and qualified. We have a former employee who now works at Salesforce, we use Salesforce ourselves, and quite frankly they seem to care about the non-profit world. We at Schipul are “all in” as they say as are Tendenci powers the majority of our clients are non-profits.

What can you do now to get ready?

If you want to get ready to fully integrate your Tendenci site, hosted with us or self hosted with the open source community version, a good jumping off point would be to read up on the great work the Salesforce Foundation does for Non Profits. Sign up with the Foundation to get your free licenses even if you just want to play around with it.

I’ll try to keep everyone more up to speed on our roadmap, it’s been a crazy year. But make no mistake, we are building an open system that will reduce the costs of advocacy and non-profit associations and foundations by a factor of 10 compared to Raiser’s Edge. There is hope. (Programmer? – join us on github! http://github.com/tendenci/tendenci ) And in case you can’t tell, I’m excited about this!