Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2015/ Wishful Thinking 002: NetSquared Nonprofit IT Group

Wishful Thinking 002: NetSquared Nonprofit IT Group

Update: There is now a "Non-Profit Sysadmin" meetup. Sign up for meeting announcements here:

At best, I have a love/hate relationship with TechSoup, the drug-pushers who makes expensive proprietary software cheap to nonprofits. Thanks to TechSoup, we can run Windows Server and Exchange Server and Office 2010 relatively cheaply. Thanks to TechSoup, there is little incentive for us to move to free and open source software solutions, which means the people we work with have little incentive to choose FLOSS, which means that proprietary solutions maintain their stranglehold on the marketplace.

Regardless of my personal feelings for the organization, there is no question that TechSoup fills a niche in the software ecosystem. Non-profit organizations face different technology challenges and constraints than business ventures. For example: in the for-profit world IT staff are very expensive, and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to avoid paying a couple of IT staff makes good business sense. At the cult, everybody is paid on the same wage scale, and the emphasis is often on hiring people rather than investing in expensive infrastructure. That means we usually repurpose what we can get our hands on (which is quite a bit, thanks to Computer Recycling) and put it to the best use we can. Sometimes I worry that the skills and inclinations I have developed working for a nonprofit are completely non-transferable to any other IT domain, and thus I am unemployable forever.

The TechSoup people seem to understand that IT for nonprofits is different, so they have a network of meetups called NetSquared . At theses meetups, people from local nonprofits and social enterprises get together and talk about technology solutions for their organizations.

A few years ago there was an attempt to start up a NetSquared group locally, but it fizzled out. I think that it might be nice to have a meetup where I could converse with other IT people to discuss topics relevant to our specific domains. I do not think this group necessarily needs to have the NetSquared branding, but since many local organizations already use TechSoup maybe it would not be harmful.

Since the Cloud is the future and in-house sysadmins are going extinct, maybe a NetSquared group is no longer necessary or relevant.

Project Status: The NetSquared organization already exists. From time to time I see seminars directed towards nonprofit decision makers, but they tend to be Google-sponsored "information events" intended to sell nonprofits on the convenience of the Google ecosystem. Maybe that is fine (and it is certainly the way the industry is heading) but given my strong feelings about Google these meetings probably do not suit my interests.

What I can offer: