Free Apps & Software for Non-Profits

According to the National Day Calendar, February is Free & Open Source Software (FOSS) Month. Open source (OS) software can be a fantastic resource for non-profit organizations that need technology, just as a for-profit business does, but often have fewer resources to pay for expensive solutions.So, what is an open source software? You probably already use some of the most popular open source packages without even realizing it.

WordPress (blogging and website design)

Firefox (internet browser)

Android (mobile device operating system)

These are all open source software. OS software developers (aka the copyright holders) make the source code available to anyone to view or edit. The software or app is also free for anyone to use, copy, or give away. OS software is often developed in a public collaboration. For example, if you click on About Firefox in the browser’s Help menu, you will see that the Firefox internet browser “is designed by Mozilla, a global community working to keep the Web open, public and accessible to all.”The idea behind this way of creating software is the theory that programmers, who work for a for-profit business and the business itself, are focusing on protecting their ownership and profit in addition to, or instead of, making the software the highest quality it can be. OS advocates believe that a larger group of programmers, who rely on peers to find and eliminate problems in the code, will create a more useful and higher quality product for everyone.The big advantage of open source software, of course, is that it’s free. The fact that the code is public means that hundreds or even thousands of programmers and users may test, evaluate, debug, and enhance the app you eventually use. Here are the top 5 reasons open source advocates give for the benefits of open source software, in addition to the zero-dollar price tag:

Security: the more people who can see and test a set of code, the more likely security flaws will be found and fixed.

Reliability: it’s peer reviewed, with bugs fixed immediately rather than in far-future versions.

Identity: it can be customized.

Low-resource intensity: open source software can frequently be run on the older computers common in non-profit offices.

Freedom of choice: No commitment until you are sure (try as many different packages as you want-they’re free!)

There are downsides, however. The most common, in my experience, is that there probably isn’t a help desk or tech support phone number for users to call. The help desk for an OS software system may be the same blog or website where programmers and testers download code and discuss bugs that they find.Below is a list of some OS apps and software, which many non-profit organizations will find useful. They are all widely used, award-winning packages. Just remember, that doesn’t mean they are all automatically right for YOUR non-profit. Consider who on your staff (whether in-office or consultants) will

install the software

maintain the software and any data

train new users

use the software on a regular basis

Consider also whether this software needs to “talk to” other software in your organization. Will the packages be compatible? If you have existing data that will need to be converted to the new package, who will do that?Now that we’ve cautioned you about the risks, here are our favorite open source software packages:

LibreOffice: office productivity suite including word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, database, etc. based on, and successor to OpenOffice. Awarded Best Free Office Suite by CNET Magazine

GIMP: GNU Image Manipulation Program photo and image editor. Works on GNU/Linux, OS X, Windows, and more. Named a Top Free Software Pick for 2013 by PC Magazine

Audacity: digital audio editor created by a professor and a student at Carnegie Mellon University. Chosen as one of PC World Magazine’s 100 Best Products of 2008

Shotcut: cross-platform video editor and encoder. Named a TechRadar Download of the Day

Thunderbird: email and chat client developed by Mozilla (maker of Firefox). PC World Magazine’s Best 100 Products in 2005 and 2008

KeePass: password manager. Recommended password manager by the German Federal Office for Information Security and the French Network and Information Security Agency. KeePass has the highest score in the password management grid of G2 Crowd

Rocket.Chat: multi-platform web chat, video conferencing, and team communications. InfoWorld Magazine BOSSIE 2016 Award

One of the biggest non-profit needs is for a constituent relationship management (CRM) system that allows the organization to keep track of donors, prospects, volunteers, and other constituents as well as communications with constituents. Here are the free and open source CRMs you might investigate when it’s time for a new CRM at your non-profit.

Suite CRM (formerly Sugar CRM) is one of the most popular, although it is not specific to non-profit

CiviCRM has been developed specifically for non-profit organizations

If you want to learn more, many non-profit and charitable organizations promote the open source software movement. Here are a few of the largest and longest-lived:

Apache Software Foundation: provides support for the community of Apache open-source software products

The Document Foundation: German charitable foundation created by a large group of free software advocates

The Eclipse Foundation: an independent non-profit funded by member dues to allow a vendor-neutral and open community to steward the IBM-created Eclipse Project

Free Software Foundation: works to ensure freedom for computer users worldwide, particularly by promoting the GNU free operating system

Linux Foundation: supports many open source projects, including the 25-year-old Linux operating system

OpenCourseWare Consortium: worldwide network of educational institutions, organizations, and people who promote openness in education, including collective development and use of open educational materials

OpenHatch: matches prospective open source software programmers with communities, tools, and education

OpenSourceMatters: offers financial, legal, and organizational support for the Joomla! content management system for websites

Open Source Initiative: represents the open source community, maintains the Open Source Definition, and creates open-source licenses

The label “open source” is said to have been coined at a strategy session held in 1998 shortly after the announcement of the release of the Netscape web browser source code. In the almost 20 years since then, the Free and Open Source Software market and products have matured. Non-profits can take advantage of the high-quality, free* software available for productivity, constituent management, and other essential tasks.*Just remember, not all free software is free or safe to use.

Mechanical CAD Software

There is more than 20 CAD software in the current market. Which one should you learn?Well, this was the most annoying question for me when I was pursuing my engineering degree. Every time I ask someone, either my seniors or my professors, all of them gave me a different answer. Some asked me to go for Catia or NX Unigraphics while others for Solidworks or Autocad. I was worried as no one was suggesting for Solidedge and my college was teaching me Solidedge. The decision was difficult for me but I had to choose one as my aim was to be Design Engineer. In the end, I went for CATIA as one of my friends suggested that most of the automobiles company in Germany use this CAD software.How learning CAD software got me the Job?It was August 2016 when I was having my Industrial Training at BFW[Bharat Fritz Werner] and they are Germans & they were not using Catia but Solidworks. I somehow managed to get the software and learned few modules from the internet to complete my industrial training. As I was already aware of Catia & Solidedge, learning Solidworks wasn’t difficult for me. And also thanks to my project instructor, who helped me throughout my industrial training with the software.It was June 2017 when I was facing an interview at Adobe Metal Products and the factory manager questioned me ‘Do you know Solidworks?’Obviously, the answer was Yes, I know SolidWorks. I told him about my previous experience of SolidWorks and he got impressed. But I was aware that I need to learn more. So, I started learning Solidworks before my joining in Adobe Metals. And when I finally joined there, I was assigned the 3D modeling jobs in the company. But as time passed by I got familiar with the Autocad too as the CNC punching press of my company only accepted AutoCAD files.Currently, I am familiar with 4 different CAD software and kind of eligible to provide a decent reply to this question. Lets start. I’m gonna tell you 3 different formulae to solve this problem.1. CAD software is available on three different levels:-Beginner Level Software:-
Only used for 2D drafting work.

They are mostly used by micro & small scale manufacturing industries.

This software is either very cheap or Free.

These are not user – friendly.

Example:- AutoCAD 2D, Draftsight etc.
Professional Level software:-
Used in both 2D drafting & 3D modeling work.

These are very User-Friendly software preferred by all the beginner design engineer.

This software are used by small & medium scale industries.

They are costlier than the basic level software but cheaper than the advanced level software.

Example:- Solidworks, Solid Edge etc.
Advanced Level Software:-
Used for all 3 CAD, CAM, CAE work.

This are very costly software.

These are only used by top companies.

These are very costly software.

This software is complex to use.

Ex:- Catia, Siemens NX etc.
2. Market Share of Different CAD SoftwareAccording to ‘idatalabs’ research, we have the following data:-
Solidworks is used by 38099 companies.

Catia is used by 11,369 companies.

Siemens NX is used by 2,393 companies.

AutoCAD is used by 114818 companies.

Creo/ProE is used by 2355 companies.

Solid Edge is used by 83 companies.

Draftsight is used by 1046 companies.

Autodesk Inventor is used by 8881 companies.

This means that AutoCAD has a maximum share of 36%, preceded by SolidWorks at 21%. Autodesk Inventor & Catia takes 5% & 6% respectively.So, this four software are most widely used in the market and luckily we have only one software each from Beginner and Professional level.3. CAD Software used by different companies:-
Solidworks is used by Tesla Motors, Illinois Tool Works, BFW, Adobe Metals, Pentair etc.

Catia is used by Triumph Group, Honda R&D Americas, Audi, Jaguar Land Rover, Škoda, Bentley Motors Limited etc.

AutoCAD is used by Atkins, Restoration Hardware, almost every micro/small scale industries etc.

Siemens NX is used by Rolls-Royce Holdings, B/E Aerospace, Daimler, SpaceX etc.

AutoDesk Inventor is used by Parker-Hannifin, Cameron International, Mettler-Toledo International etc.

Creo is used by Paccar, Cummins, Lockheed Martin, Toyota etc.

Solid Edge is used by Kulite Semiconductor Products, Inc, The Wooster Brush Company, CNH Industrial NV etc

Draftsight is used by Semtech Corporation, Mecsmart Systems Inc., Terex etc.

So, you have all the reasons to choose the right software now. I would suggest you go with the market share. After all, it’s about getting the Job with the help of software skills. Choose AutoCAD or Solidworks right now to begin your career and then based on your Dream Mechanical Company you can choose to learn any of the advance CAD Software.Best of Luck!