An Open Source Grant Making System

Grant-making isn’t a cheap venture. Even if you are a re-granting agency (you are given money to give away), the overhead involved in running a grants program is significant. I want to help that change.

Six or so years ago, I was central in developing an online grants system and later managing a grants program using that online grants system. During that time, I worked with roughly 20 large and small organizations that gave grants ranging from city, to county, to state, to federal agencies.

Many grants programs are paper-based. Applications are filled out with pen on paper or with a typewriter. In some instances the application is available as a fillable PDF, but ultimately the process becomes analog-paper being passed from administrator to panels and from agency to applicant. It is expensive in human resources–people having to manage the process often, with the help of, excel or other spreadsheet applications.

Other grants programs use specialised software which–by and large–is expensive to set up and expensive to license each year.

The more money used to administer grants programs, the less money there is to distribute. Less Money to distribute=Less Good in the target community.

At pingVision, we have assembled a Knight Drupal Initiative Proposal that addresses the need for an open-source solution for grant-makers. This application seeks:

  1. To create an easy-to-use, state of the art, open-source grant-making system using the Drupal Content Management system.
  2. To allow for custom development of application forms.
  3. To allow for custom theme development.
  4. To provide management tools for grant applicants, grantees, panelists, and Grant-makers

Interested in helping? We can use constructive comments and votes! Help make this project happen.

You do need to register to vote and comment. If you do vote, please leave a comment of some kind.

Creech (Matthew)

Written by: Creech

Using the Event Calendar

As you may have noticed, there has been a little event calendar on the site for the last few weeks. We’ve been ironing out some issues and there are still other elements that we may add in the future, but it is ready for folks to start making use of.

  1. To post to the calendar you must be registered as a blogger on the site. We are limiting who can post to the calendar to prevent spam from ending up on the calendar.
  2. If you want to post to the calendar, please ask Glit, Penguin, or Creech (me!) to set you up.
  3. If you want to book space in one of the sims, please see Penguin or Glit and ask one of them to make the arrangements.
  4. This goes without saying, but please be sensible about what events you post.

Alright, how do you go about posting an event? It is pretty simple.

  1. Log into the NPC site.
  2. Click on "Create Content" in your right hand menu
  3. Click on "Event"
  4. Choose a start and end date along with times. Please note that the time zone is Pacific/SL.
  5. Type in a Title
  6. Add body–you can use some HTML. If you want to see what the filter will accept and what options you have–click on "Input Format"
  7. You may include a file attachment if you have something like a flyer
  8. Click "Preview" if you’d like to look at your event before you post it
  9. Click "Submit" when you are ready for it to be posted to the site.

It is that easy. Happy event posting!

Creech Antwerp/Matthew Saunders

Written by: Creech

Drupal Basics-Setting Up A Local Install of Drupal on a Mac

Seeing as this site is a Drupal site, I thought our members might be interested in how to set up Drupal locally on a computer.

The first time I ever set up a local install of Drupal was a copy of 4.7.4.  I remember aspects of setting things up being a little convoluted.  5.x had not gone into full release–I believe it was in RC 1.  So there was no installer and it proved to be an interesting challenge.  With the advent of 5.x, things have become much simpler.  I’m going to describe how to set up a local install of Drupal 5.x on a Mac.


  1. Get a copy of MAMP–it stands for Mac Apache, MySQL, PHP.  The linux version is called LAMP and the windows version is called WAMP
  2. Download the version of Drupal you want to install from


  1. Extract the instance of Drupal you want to install
  2. Pop extracted directory into MAMP’s htdocs folder– /applications/MAMP/htdocs
  3. Fire up MAMP and click on "Open Start Page"
  4. Click on phpMyAdmin in the menu bar at the top of the page
  5. Click on the "databases" link in the main body of the page
  6. At the bottom of this page is a text box that reads "create new database", type in a name for your new database and choose a "collation", I use latin1_swedish_ci
  7. Create a user for the database–click on the sql tab up top and use the following command "grant all on database_name accounts.* to user_name@localhost identified by ‘password’;" with no quotes and replacing database_name with the database, user_name with any name you care to put in, and password with an password you care to use
  8. In your browser go to http://localhost:8888 and click twice on the directory with Drupal in it.
  9. Enter the database name, database username, and database password in the appropriate fields–leave the database type as mysql.  Click "Save configuration"
  10. You now have a working instance of Drupal on your computer!  Click on "your new site" and create user 1.

Remember that to have your Drupal instance working, you have to start MAMP up before going to the localhost Web address.  You can load modules in and configure this just as you would a live site.  It also give you an easy way to play with theming.

Written by: Creech

Change In Focus

In my intersection with other nonprofits through the NPSL group and on the TechSoup site I am expanding my focus to deal with emerging technologies in general and how they can be utilized by the nonprofit community as a whole.  My background is in the arts, so expect to continue to see some bias for that industry but my personal experiences over the last two years have shifted my sense of self toward social justice (although being Canadian probably has something to do with that too.)
So, while the focus has been shifting over the last six months, expect it to be more apparent–including the updated header on .

Written by: Creech


Aggregators are tools that allow you to access the RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feeds from different sites.  You can tell that a site has a feed if you see this icon on the page.  Aggregators allow you to mix the feeds from many sites into a single place.  In other words, no need to surf when an aggregator can deliver the content to your desktop.
Some of my favourite aggregators include:

  1. Drupal has its own built in aggregator.  I’m including it because of the overall utility of Drupal as a content management tool
  2. Netvibes is a truly fabulous aggregation site allowing for all kinds of mixing and matching of information
  3. NewsLife is an OSX 10.4 only aggregator that tries to simplify the interface and make reading feeds more intuitive.
  4. Bloglines is a great aggregator/organizer of feeds.
  5. Feeddemon is a desktop application that costs a little money (about $30), but is one of the most powerful and sophisticated readers out there.

If you spend much time reading news sites, blogs, and wikis and want to save some time, a reader is an invaluable tool.

Written by: Creech

Marketplaces and Web 2.0

Social networking sites are gathering places.  When they are successful, they build community.  That community can interact through chat, forums, blogs and comments, virtual environments, text messaging and wikis. 
Those who are 18-35ish are rarely far away from these communities due to the prevalence of cell phones with text messaging and browsers.  In fact, many young people use the texting functions on cell phones more than the phone itself.  I understand this.  I use texting to keep in touch with my wife.  Often a quick text is a faster way to communicate with people. 
I also use texting with the programmers we work with at work.  It is fast and I don’t need a computer to do it. In Asia text messaging has become enormous.  Broadband services on cell are common place in Asia.  They will become common place here as well.  The trend for people to be online almost all the time will not diminish.  In fact, those who are between 18-25 spend more time online than watch TV and it is a vast amount of time–over 80 hours a month.
This trend has far reaching implications.

  1. Entertainment choices are shifting–the computer has become a primary source, perhaps THE primary source of entertainment.
  2. Where people "hang out" is changing.  Physical place has become less important.  If you see a teenager texting on a Sidekick, they are hanging out with friends.  Perhaps not at the mall, but it isn’t any less valid.
  3. Virtual spaces like Second Life will become more influential.  Second Life already has over 6 million residents and the GDP of a small country.  Commercial advertisers have already figured this out and have begun using the space to that advantage.
  4. The marketplace has begun shifting and will continue to do so.  If you want to reach the younger consumer you must meet them where they gather.  That is online.

Nonprofits must embrace the new marketplace.  If the community chooses to ignore how monumental of a tectonic shift this will represent the community will fail.  Theatres won’t have people in the seats.  Service organizations won’t be able to easily recruit volunteers.  Sales will plummet.  Grantmakers will lose opportunities to fund quality applicants
So, where is your best marketplace and has it moved online yet?  If it has started, don’t ignore how young people are gathering.  Find your way to where they hang out and you can find a place to plant a seed.

Written by: Creech

Skype and Nonprofits

Skype is a terrific tool.  It is a software based phone that allows VoIP calls anywhere in the world.  If you place a Skype call between computers–your computer and the computer of the person on the other end–the call is free.   It costs pennies a minute to call to a cell phone or land line.
Skype will allow you to do video calling, share documents, and IM others on the Skype network.
How can a nonprofit use Skype?  I think it can be particularly useful when working on collaborative projects.  These projects could be technology based or not.

  1. Conference calls become free using Skype.
  2. If you have documents to share, they can be sent to everybody in the group by dragging and dropping into a Skype chat.
  3. Skype’s chat feature allows you to see when others in your group are online–and potentially available to talk.

I use Skype pretty much everyday in collaboration with programmers and other project based colleagues.
For the purposes of the Nonprofits in Second Life group, it is used to keep the project leaders in touch with one another.
Paired with other tools, Skype can become a powerful–and free–tool in your virtual kit.  It is a free download, works on MacOS, PC, and Linux.
Look me up, my handle is jmatthewsaunders.

Written by: Creech

Tagging Tutorials, Part IV, REVVER

REVVER is a video site similar to YouTube.  The company is quite a bit smaller than YouTube.  The number of videos on REVVER is much smaller than on YouTube.  While it is a little guy, REVVER is my preferred video site. 
The small guy is more likely to try and work with content providers.  You can post messages to the forum on REVVER and get a response very quickly.  The REVVER staff are quite likely to email you directly if you have something you need/want to have resolved.
Posting to REVVER is very similar to posting to YouTube.
What are the steps?

  1. You need an account.  Accounts are free.  Go to and click on "register" in the top left corner.
  2. Once you have an account, log in and click on "Upload".
  3. REVVER takes the process in reverse of YouTube–first you choose your file (and you can upload mov, mpeg, mp4, asf, avi, DIVX, 3gp and 3g2).  Click on the "Browse" button and after you have selected your file, choose "Upload".
  4. That opens up a "Title", "Description", TAGS, Web Page, Credits, and Age Level.  Click "Save This Video".
  5. Do NOT leave this page until your file has completed uploading.

You can tag during this process or after you have saved your video.  The Nonprofits in Second Life Group are using "NPSL".
One thing to note is that REVVER is highly sensitive of copyright.  They will not post a video that they suspect contains any copyrighted materials.  Background music can cause a video to be rejected.

Written by: Creech

Tagging Tutorials, Part III YouTube

If you don’t know about YouTube you must be living a sheltered life… YouTube is a video sharing site that has successfully captured a huge portion of the Internet video market. It has come under some criticism for allowing large quantities of copyright material to be pirated and uploaded onto the site. None the less, YouTube is a powerful tool that can be used by the nonprofit community to raise awareness and market.

What do I need to post and tag on YouTube?

  1. An account. Signing up is easy. Go to and click on sign up in the top right corner of the screen. Enter in the required fields and submit. You will get a verification email which with a link that you need to click on to activate your account.
  2. Upload a video. This presupposes that you have videos ready to go. YouTube accepts a wide variety of different video formats including: .WMV, .AVI, .MOV, and .MPG. Uploading a video is simple. First click on upload videos in the top right corner of the site. Second, enter in a name, description, and TAGS. For the Nonprofits in Second Life site, we are asking folks to use NPSL as a tag to identify it as related content. Choose a category and a language. Click "Continue Uploading". Browse for your file on your computer. Just like on Flickr, you can then decide who can see your video–will it be public or private to friends and/or family. Click Upload.
  3. This will bring you to a page with a snippet of code you can use to embed your video into your Web site. In my case this looked like this…

<object width="425" height="350"> <param name="movie" value=""> </param> <embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="350"> </embed> </object>

which produces this:

You must own the video to tag it. So, unlike Flickr where friends can add tags, you need to ensure that all the tags you think are relevant are added. You can always add to your own tags later.

Written by: Creech