Sunday, January 28, 2007

Just in time for the political season, CivicSpace ramps up its offerings

CivicSpace cut its teeth on the Howard Dean campaign, in which it used Drupal to power community sites that supported the campaign. (Drupal's a good open source CMS; we use it to power the CWRL's sites too.) Now, CivicSpace LLC is "a for profit social enterprise dedicating to providing all nonprofits and civic groups an affordable, ubiquitous and powerful toolkit to create social change on the web." That is, if you want to run a campaign (and it is getting to be that season), promote an issue, or establish a community for your nonprofit, CivicSpace combines open source software with its own service and expertise to support your work. More precisely:
CivicSpace continues to offer turn-key site creation services. For a low fixed fee, we will conduct a written needs assessment, configure your website & supporter database, import website content and supporters, and deliver a quality look and feel for your site. All you have to do is tell us what you want, we do the rest.
The above doesn't come from CivicSpace's site, it comes from an email blast I received from them this morning. It also says:

We are happy to announce the open public release of the CivicSpace On Demand service, offering a complete, integrated solution for your community website, online donations, blast email, and supporter database needs.

Based on your past interest in our services, we'd love it if you would be among our first customers to get Groundswell Professional, an integrated fundraising, email, website and database solution at $50 per month with your first 30 days free.

What's Groundswell, you ask?
Groundswell professional is the easiest way to get the world class Drupal content management system integrated with the only open source constituent relationship management system, CiviCRM.
I find this to be really intriguing for a couple of reasons. One is that CivicSpace is offering a service very similar to the "conversational marketing" discussed below, but in the civic rather than the commercial sphere. I wonder how much overlap in expertise there is between the two spheres. The other is that CivicSpace seems to be a classic example of what open source enthusiasts have long argued: that when you open-source your software, you make back your money with services.

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