For years I've been selling a vision of a nonprofit sector powered by open-source, mission-focused, enterprise software and an organization of sufficient scale to drive that vision. Over the holidays I finally found the folks that are taking the plunge. (I too decided to get wet)
Large things don't start with large ideas. Large things start with small actions. Over two weeks, two very small actions started building the foundation for a vision--something I wasn't able to accomplish over a year of trying.
One is the CRM project. This project is working to create a LAMP-based core to CRM information for mission-focused nonprofit and nongovernmental applications (fundraising, advocacy, etc.). It is amazing what happens when folks decide to roll up their sleeves and just get the work done.
The other is a business plan for an organization to seed, grow, and extend the ecosystem for these nonprofit, open-source software projects.
The CRM project is a first technical step to a set of products (software engineered to be useful to end users, not just developers) that have the potential to change the face of nonprofit technology. CivicSpace Labs is on the front end of this effort with many other folks starting to jump on board as the train starts moving out of the station. Unlike the TGV in Europe, people don't need to board this train at the station.... much like Indian Railways, people can hope on the train at any point, many of whom will sit on the roof in the open air. The train goes slow, but it gets to its destination eventually.