Open source software from organizations, such as and Benetech, have become an important tool in tackling large global social causes in areas such as disaster relief, human rights and education. This class of software is typically referred to as Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software (HFOSS).
- FrontlineSMS has been used in drought stricken Kenya to inform Food Monitors working with ActionAid about when consignments of food supplies will be delivered to communities, whether any supplies are missing from the pipeline on any given week, and if there are any delays in dispatching the supplies. At the same time, the Food Monitors text back information on how food distributions have gone – whether all community members attended a distribution, and whether they received the correct rations.
- The Guardian Project is an open source mobile technology team creating easy to use applications and developer tools focused on personal security, anonymity and privacy. They work closely with rights defenders, activists and NGOs to understand the specific risks and threats they face in their work. Their apps are designed to be used by anyone seeking to protect their communications and personal information from unjust intrusin and monitoring, whether domestic or international.
- Miradi, software developed by Benetech in collaboration with the Conservation Measures Partnership, is being used by Rare, a nonprofit promoting and protecting biodiversity, to identify actions that endanger Guam’s coral reefs and determined that sedimentation due to wildfires is the main threat to reefs in Guam’s Sella Bay and Cetti Bay. Miradi helped Rare focus on the concrete result of increasing branching coral species in Guam’s marine areas. Miradi is currently being used by over 5,000 conservation practitioners across over 120 countries to protect a wide range of species and the ecosystems they thrive in.
- Amara (formerly Universal Subtitles) is a project of the Participatory Culture Foundation. Amara makes online video accessible to deaf and hard of hearing users, by engaging in active community of volunteers who can caption videos. It has also been widely used in order to bridge language barriers between video makers working on education, human rights and disaster relief. For example, the Khan Academy, itself an HFOSS developer, is using Amara to expand its reach beyond the English-language world with community-provided subtitles. Those subtitles will add translations to more than two dozen languages on videos of the popular education site
Development of these innovative software applications is done through a combination of paid staff developers funded by generous philanthropic foundations and increasingly through communities of developers, designers and other product development professionals who volunteer their time and skills towards social good.
SocialCoding4Good aims to increase the awareness of this new type of volunteerism or "Social Coding For Good"; and match product developers with HFOSS projects that can utilize their ideas, skills and time. Using the SocialCoding4Good website, product developers will be able to search for projects that are a match with their skills, project needs and availability. On the other side, nonprofits, social enterprises and governmental agencies will be able to list their projects, specify their timing and skill requirements, evaluate volunteers based on feedback from other nonprofit or open source communities and manage volunteer communities.
SocialCoding4Good is a Benetech Initiative being funded by generous grants from the Knight Foundation via the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and HP.