Winter-Spring 2002

Database and Directory Resources from the Organizer's Collaborative
by Rich Cowan

The Organizers' Collaborative, a non-profit group based in Boston, has begun to distribute a free database program for Windows PCs that is geared to the needs of membership groups (with 200-20,000 members) and grassroots organizing campaigns. ODB (Organizers' Database) was designed to be extremely accessible and easy to use, so as to reduce the support requirements typically incurred by nonprofit groups using complex software. It makes it easy to enter, sort, print, export, and import lists of people and organizations and can be shared by multiple users on a Local Area Network. ODB  saves all data in a separate database file and automatically backs it up each month and includes a basic zip code lookup feature.  For more information, see the "screen shots" online or the full user manual.

Organizers' Collaborative has a second project underway, called, which was developed almost entirely by student interns.  DemocracyGroups is a national directory of email lists that are oriented toward social change organizing.  It is organized by issue, constituency, and geographic region. Not only is this in itself a valuable resources, but the mechanism by which the web site will be updated is also quite innovative, similiar to the Netscape Open Directory in which dozens of editors help to keep the site up to date.  We have about 40 editors who are helping out with screening the information that comes from the general public.  The web site is written using Perl, and MySQL, both open source languages; a toolkit based on the source code is under preparation. — Rich Cowan

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