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Contribute to the NPSP Open Source Community

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Describe how NPSP operates as open source software.
  • Consider contributing to the NPSP open source community.

We’re going to get a little nerdy in this unit, but the key takeaway is that there’s a wide spectrum of ways to contribute to the community of nonprofits using NPSP. We’re all in this together, and we hope you consider joining us in creating better technology for all the nonprofits using NPSP.

Open...What?

The term ‘open source’ refers to something people can modify and share because its design is publicly accessible. The term originated in the context of software development to designate a specific approach to creating computer programs. Today, however, ‘open source’ designates a broader set of values...Open source projects, products, or initiatives embrace and celebrate principles of open exchange, collaborative participation, rapid prototyping, transparency, meritocracy, and community-oriented development.

--opensource.com

NPSP is distributed as open source software and you can view and export every single line of code to understand exactly how it works. You can even make a copy (known as a ‘fork’) of it for your own use. It’s all on the Salesforce.org GitHub repository. Go ahead and poke around using the link listed in the resources section of this unit. It’s okay. We don’t mind. We’re open like that. 

Even better than just viewing and understanding the source code of NPSP, you can get involved and contribute so our entire community can benefit.

Salesforce community members working together to improve the technology.

Contribute to NPSP

While the description of open source might suggest that we are only looking for code contributions, there are many different ways to contribute to NPSP and the community. In fact, the majority of our most active contributors are administrators or consultants who have deep experience with Nonprofit Success Pack and a desire to help enrich the community of nonprofits who are meeting their mission with Salesforce.

You can find detailed instructions in the resources section of this unit, but here are just some of the ways you can contribute.

Report a bug 

Bugs happen, and telling us about ones you find is one of the best ways you can contribute to NPSP. Thank you! Since your Salesforce instance consists of many different pieces of functionality, some from the Salesforce platform, some from NPSP, and even some from other applications, it can be difficult to tell where a bug or unexpected behavior might be coming from. Sharing a detailed report (with screenshots) helps isolate where we can find (and exterminate!) any bugs. Join the Nonprofit Success Pack group in the Power of Us Hub, and share the report with us there (link in the resources section below).

Join a Community Project 

The nonprofit Salesforce community is incredibly collaborative and has been building and sharing open source solutions for over 10 years. You can get involved in active, community-driven projects that are looking for folks to  test, help with development, provide use cases, and more. These projects have their own Power of Us Hub collaboration groups for discussion and sharing. Search for the groups in the Hub beginning with “Community Project.”

Share an idea

The Power of Us ideas depend on the power of YOU, our user community. You can suggest and vote on new NPSP enhancements, and collaborate with colleagues, partners and our Salesforce.org technology and product teams. If you have a favorite idea that you are passionate about, then make sure you submit or vote for it! The popularity of an idea -- measured through votes and comments -- is what helps us understand which ideas are important to you, and which Ideas you want our Salesforce.org technology and product team to consider.

Answer a question

The Power of Us Hub is the online community for nonprofit admins and users of Salesforce. It’s a great place to contribute to the overall success of all nonprofits using Salesforce by answering a question or sharing your experience. Don’t be shy, your experience is valuable and sharing how you solved an issue can be incredibly valuable to someone else.

Contribute documentation

If you browse NPSP documentation (or “knowledge articles”) in the Power of Us Hub, you can see that many articles have been submitted by community members. If you have a suggestion for an area of Salesforce functionality that should be added to the NPSP documentation, Salesforce.org would love to hear about it. In addition, if you feel like an existing document could be improved or rewritten to include new functionality in Salesforce or NPSP, let us know. We also have a list of some areas that we want to document, but just haven’t been able to get to yet, so you may be able to help with a topic you’re passionate about. We’ll even provide writing guidelines to help you get started! 

Attend a community sprint

What’s a community sprint? It’s a way that everyone, from accidental techies to advanced developers, can work together in person to contribute to an open source project - while having some fun. 

You decide what you want to work on over the course of the 1 or 2 day event, and work in small groups to make it happen. It could be code, documentation, reports, videos and more. It’s a great way to meet your fellow community members, learn something new, and come away energized by the power of the community. Salesforce.org hosts 2-3 community sprints events a year. 

Adding It All Up

If you have made your way to this point unit-by-unit through the Administer Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) trail, you have absorbed an incredible amount of information, from big picture best practices to the nittiest of gritties for specific settings. And you are well on your way to living up to your “chosen” status. As you continue on, remember you can return to this trail whenever you need to -- the how-to’s and resources will be here for you. And don’t forget about the Power of Us Hub. It is always on and available to you 24/7. 

A fortune cookie with the encouraging  message, "Every exit is an entrance to new experiences.” Onwards, we go!

Resources