The Top 80 Charities for Open Source Advocates

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The open source revolution calls for a free, unregulated Internet that allows the public free access to design, develop and share software programs and information. These 80 charities and nonprofit organizations foster the open source spirit through education programs, fundraising practices and promotional techniques in order to transform the Internet into a more democratic entity.

Most Popular

These organizations are some of the most popular open source nonprofits on the Web.

  1. Wikipedia: Most non-techies don’t realize it, but Wikipedia is actually an open source charity. Based on a system of free information sharing, anyone can edit posts, submit images and create articles.
  2. Users of are encouraged to “create, participate [and] evaluate.” Ongoing projects are categorized by clustering, desktop, financial, games networking, security, and more.
  3. Open Source Initiative: This nonprofit organization was “formed to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source and to build bridges among different constituencies in the open-source community.” Use their website to learn more about open source, make a donation or get involved with different projects.
  4. Open Source with Christopher Lydon : Readers and members of this popular web community help produce a daily radio show about everything from world politics to literature to entertainment.
  5. The Open Group: This “vendor-neutral and technology-neutral consortium” aims to connect global enterprises through the free, uninterrupted flow of shared information.
  6. Calgary Open Source Group: This online social network also supports open source software technology, spreading the word about its unique culture.
  7. The Utah Open Source Collective: The Utah Open Source Collective is a nonprofit organization that relies on volunteers to maintain an organization that works towards improving technology, sharing information and spreading the word about open source.
  8. .netTiers: Download free code generation templates from this open source organization.
  9. Software in the Public Interest: SPI promotes open source by helping organizations develop open hardware and software for their businesses.
  10. The Apache Software Foundation: Apache users can find support for software programs and projects at The Apache Software Foundation, an online “community of developers and users.”
  11. XFree86 Project: Volunteers involved in the XFree86 Project produce the XFree86, which is widely used “freely redistributable open source implementation of the X Window System.”
  12. This community strives to “make the world a “little” better place.” Become a member (don’t worry, it’s free!) and find yourself part of an online networking system which focuses on information sharing and technology.

Education Programs

The more we educate children about technology and the Internet, the more computer proficient individuals continue to revolutionize open source software and communities. These education programs are devoted to broadening the world’s understanding of how computers and the Internet impact society.

  1. Internet Society: The Internet Society sponsors all kinds of workshops and training programs to help communities, including those in underprivileged nations, better utilize the Internet.
  2. CyberSmart!: CyberSmart! provides free curriculum to teachers in grades K-8 to help their students learn “to use the Internet safely, responsibly and effectively.”
  3. The Internet and Your Child: This program helps parents teach Internet safety to their children.
  4. Apple Learning Interchange: This social network connects teachers who want to discover new methods and tools for educating their students on computer technology.
  5. West Virginia Tools for Schools Elementary: This successful program brings computers and the Internet into the classrooms of West Virginia.
  6. Education Program for Gifted Youth: Stanford University’s EPGY invites gifted students from around the world to participate in an “individualized educational experience” that offers courses in subjects like computer science.
  7. Help the Afghan Children: This nonprofit organization sponsors a computer education program to help Afghans catch up with the “global information technology revolution” and contribute to the computer industry.
  8. One Laptop Per Child: This admirable organization lists as its mission to “provide children around the world with new opportunities to explore, experiment and express themselves.”
  9. ERIC: ERIC, or the Education Resources Information Center, is a government-sponsored online library full of educational resources for teachers. Lesson plans and ideas for computer exercises are also available.
  10. Education World Technology Integration: This website provides teachers with all kinds of computer resources for implementing technology in the classroom, including the Internet, typing, and more.
  11. Steve Wozniak’s Los Gatos School District Adoption: Macintosh founder Steve Wozniak has donated technology equipment to California’s Los Gatos School District to help introduce children to the world of computers.

Design and Development Groups

Below you will find nonprofit organizations dedicated to the improvement of open source standards and software development.

  1. Open Source Web Design: This nonprofit allows visitors to download free web design templates. Search by designer or keyword to find new favorites.
  2. GNU: The GNU Operating system is a Unix-based os that features free software. Users have the freedom to run the program study, learn how the program works, redistribute copies and discover new ways to improve the program.
  3. Open Source Applications Foundation: The OSAF works with the Chandler Project to design open source software for small group collaboration. Applications include a Desktop application, a server and the Chandler Hub Sharing Service, which provides PIM services online for free.
  4. Open Source Geospatial Foundation: This foundation helps support Web-based community projects like the development of its own open source geospatial software. Designers and developers are encouraged to share plans and ideas for the benefit of the foundation and their own projects.
  5. XMPP Standards Foundation: Instant messaging is another part of the Internet that open source advocates try to protect against privatization and corporate exploitation. The XMPP Standards Foundation works to “define open protocols” for instant messaging programs and encourages free information sharing between designers, developers and programmers.
  6. The Free BSD Foundation: The Unix-based BSD operating system relies on this foundation to fund its research and developments so that the public may continue to use its services.
  7. TuxPhone: The TuxPhone project aims to create a totally open source cell phone in order to create new applications for phones.
  8. Blender: This “free open source 3D content creation suite” recently produced the world’s first open source movie, Elephant Dreams.
  9. openEHR: The openEHR Foundation promotes “future-proof and flexible EHR specifications” for the health care industry.

Lobbying Charities

These charities are proactive about sharing news and information about open source with the government and the public.

  1. The Free Software Foundation: The FSF “is dedicated to promoting computer users’ rights to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs.” Get involved with current campaigns like Defective By Design, which plans to eliminate DRM, or the appeal to various governments to utilize OpenDocument.
  2. Oasis: The Oasis organization is a nonprofit group that aims to improve the development and use of open source technologies around the world. Visit their website to find out how you can participate, or to gain additional information about the various Oasis committees, including ones which tackle issues in security, law and government or computing management.
  3. Creative Commons: This nonprofit combines the idealistic views of pure information sharing with secure but privatized creative data. Creative Commons uses “private rights to create public goods” by allowing designers, developers and artists to license their work while making it accessible to the public.
  4. Electronic Frontier Foundation: The EFF is a nonprofit organization that actively defends the public’s “digital rights” like free speech and privacy.
  5. Hawaii Open Source Education Foundation: HOSEF “promotes and sustains” open source ideas and software through volunteer programs, advocacy, and recycling.
  6. International Free and Open Source Software Foundation: The iFOSSF lobbies for open source software in order to improve the economic and social standards of disadvantaged communities by encouraging and supporting the growth of new businesses.
  7. XorgFoundation: This “scientific charity” provides “worldwide stewardship of the X Window System technology and standards.” Anyone can become a member to support their cause.
  8. The Mifos Initiative: This open source software company pledges its support of the world’s poorest communities by improving the “microfinance industry’s information management challenge.” The Mifos project aims to make this information technology more accessible to microfinance companies so that they can help the poor more effectively.
  9. World Wide Web Consortium: This organization is dedicated to “leading the Web to its full potential” by developing open source tools, software and communities. According to The Open Source Community, the W3C supports over 350 member organizations around the world.


These online communities connect open source advocates from all over the world.

  1. MIT Open Source Research Community: Free/open source enthusiasts share research, network and contribute papers and abstracts on this MIT-sponsored site.
  2. The Linux Foundation: The Linux foundation was created to protect and promote the open source concepts and developments of Linux. As a nonprofit organization, The Linux Foundation also provides legal services, standardizes Linux software and provides “a neutral forum for collaboration and promotion.”
  3. This nonprofit promotes an unprivatized Internet by “supporting and developing” open software and other tools that the public can access freely. visit their website to find out how you can donate to the cause or participate in new projects.
  4. Eclipse: This program fosters “an open source community whose “projects are focused on building an open development platform” that supports tools for developing software. In addition to its online forum, Eclipse also sponsors various summits and DemoCamps each year.
  5. Sakai: This Web-based community promotes a “collaboration and learning environment” where users may research, edit, consult and teach issues and documents related to technology.
  6. is home to a rich community of programmers and developers who constantly work towards promoting and improving open source technologies. Use the website to check out ongoing projects or to suggest one of your own.
  7. Open Web Application Security Project: The OWASP is a “worldwide free and open community focused on improving the security of application software.” Anyone can make suggestions, submit theories and utilize the organization’s resources free of charge.

Miscellaneous Nonprofits

Check this list for open source and open access nonprofits.

  1. The Open Source Education Foundation: Children are also encouraged to become proponents of open source technology. This group has been approved by the IRS to educate students in grades K-12 about open source.
  2. Free and Open Source Software Foundation of Pakistan: This group is becoming so popular that it is temporarily unable to maintain its own website. To help them get back on their feet, FOSSFP requests that “the international community” continues to support its hosting system, as well as free and open source software technologies.
  3. Open Bioinformatics Foundation: The OBF provides free administrative support and open source programming services to the bioinformatics community, which uses computer technology to help solve biological problems.
  4. OpenLDAP Foundation: This foundation is a nonprofit organization that receives and manages donations made to benefit the OpenLDAP Project, which develops open source software and Web hosting services.
  5. The Foundation of P2P Alternatives: This foundation studies “the impact of Peer to Peer technology and thought on society.” By studying open source networks and communities, the P2P Foundation explores the culture and social progressions of these innovative communities.
  6. Free Beer: This popular organization doesn’t pass out frothy pints via your computer screen, but it doesn’t provide free recipe and branding elements which anyone can use or alter.
  7. Nonprofit Open Source Initiative: This successful organization pledges “to facilitate and encourage the use of open source software in the nonprofit sector, and to bring nonprofits and open source developers and projects together.”

Free Open Source Software

These groups provide open source software and tools to the public free of charge.

  1. civiCRM: Comprehensive CRM packages are often too expensive for small businesses. civiCRM hosts several programs including contact databases, online event registration forms and online fundraising management tools that nonprofit and advocacy groups can download for free.
  2. The Mambo Foundation: Mambo provides free CRM downloads to the public on its website. The Mambo Foundation protects the developments of the Mambo company and its online community of supporters, designers and programmers.
  3. The Mozilla Foundation: The Mozilla Foundation protects open source software like Firefox so that its accessibility to the public is never compromised.
  4. TrueCrypt: TrueCrypt provides “free open source disk encryption software for Windows Vista/XP/200 and Linux.”
  5. Participatory Culture Foundation: The Internet isn’t the only form of media that is subject to privatization and censorship: TV can also be threatened. The PCF is the organization that develops Miro, a “free open-source desktop video application that is designed to make mass media more open and accessible for everyone.”
  6. Plone Foundation: Plone is a completely free open source content management service that is available to the public on the Web. The Plone Foundation supports Plone to ensure that it can and will always remain a public service.
  7. Firebird: Firebird software is a relational database that is free to download from the organization’s website. Users are encouraged to modify the software to create their own versions which should also be shared with the online community.
  8. OpenGL: Accessing free online games and virtual reality technologies is possible because of the OpenGL organization, which claims to be “the industry standard for high performance graphics.”
  9. Kuali Foundation: This nonprofit helps colleges, schools, businesses and other organizations maximize their open source networks and software programs.
  10. The RadioActive Foundation: The RadioActive Foundation works to fund and promote the open source software developed under the RFID project, which plans to revolutionize the Internet by creating a new “reference group of applications” for the public.
  11. Python Software Foundation: The goal of the PSF is to “promote, protect, and advance the Python programming language, and to support and facilitate the growth of the international community of Python programmers.” Users, developers and donors can all connect at their website.
  12. XOOPS: The XOOPS organization is “powered by you.” Support the design program by participating in the forums, making a donation or just spreading the word.
  13. Tax Code Software Foundation: Also known as “the Linux of tax software,” Tax Code Software aids U.S. taxpayers in their regular tax organization and preparation.
  14. OpenCyc: OpenCyc “is the open source version of the Cyc technology, the world’s largest and most complete general knowledge base and commonsense reasoning engine.” Download software or participate in ongoing discussions on their website to support open source technologies.
  15. Open Channel Foundation: Academic communities use Open Channel publishing software to publicize and organize research and teaching documents.
  16. Dojo: The Dojo Toolkit is an open source software program that is supported by the Dojo Foundation. By encouraging the program’s adoption, discouraging political contention, encouraging the collaboration and integration with other projects, and remaining a transparent, free access system, the foundation manages to continue providing services to the public.

Social and Political Groups

These social and political groups are also supporters of a free and open Internet.

  1. Ron Paul: 2008 presidential candidate Ron Paul strongly believes in the concept of a free Internet, saying, “we should never interfere with the Internet.”
  2. Barack Obama: 2008 Democratic candidate Barack Obama is another supporter of net neutrality and a free, unregulated Internet.
  3. eLGG: This open source social networking platform fosters a community of designers, programmers, donors and fundraisers who advocate open source technologies.
  4. Technology and Social Action Wiki: This wiki creates awareness about how technology impacts social action projects. Social activists can collaborate using this online portal to discuss fundraising issues and more.
  5. Really Simple Social Action: Link up with other social activists with this open source community.
  6. Politics 2.0: This concept is based on the idea “that social networking and e-participation technologies will revolutionize our ability to follow, support, and influence political campaigns.”
  7. Open Source Politics: This article discusses the effects of open source tactics on British government.
  8. Open Source Politics Taps Facebook for Myanmar Protests: Learn how political activists are instantly mobilized with the help of open source technologies.
  9. Open Source Political Manifesto: In an online experiment, Halfbakery challenges users to create political manifestos based on open source concepts. Readers will continue to vote on their favorite manifestos, creating a “public forum for non-mainstream political ideas.”

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