Most existing organizations use MS Office, with MS Access databases. MS Access can store the information in dBase file format. And OpenOffice (the office suite alternative) can open directly dBase files.
So, if we don't want to use MS Access to convert database files, a fairly essential tool would be software to help automate the conversion of MS Access databases
to dBase files
This software can include the creation of new database files in a graphical [front-end]s (with appropriate localizations).
A well designed and extensible contact management database with both web and non-web cross platform interfacase might be one of, if not the, killer app for nonprofits to switch to a free software operating system.
Configuration needs to be easy, if not existent.
(An awful lot of NPO's have used Macs because of their lack of learning curve, and for them FileMaker Pro seems to be popular. So a migration path from FMP is certainly something to consider, as well.)
Databases need (templates)
Start with a robust content management framework and then add out of the box functionality or "templates" for things like donor management, membership coordination, organizing mass mailings for fund-raising, election coordination, etc.
- Membership database
- Campaign Contacts (media lists, key targets, cooperating members)
- Fundraising database
Potential packages to use
We need a package that can save the information in database file format. So, it can be opened directly with OpenOffice.
OpenOffice, like essential package.
- open group only uses postgres, an additional project for this configuration will be to provide a backend to MySQL or SQLite.
Gnucash (gnucash ) for finances
mdbtools (mdbtools ) which aims to make it possible to work with MS Access databases under Linux -- either by exporting data from them, or by working with them in place.
- ODB in its new open source form or the dread ebase.
a new version of ebase is being developed that will run as a webapp, and be released under an open source license. 18 month timeline until running code though.
Groundspring.org, the folks who were developing ebase Enterprise (the webapp), have imploded as of 1 October 2004, losing their CEO, their CTO, and their director of marketing. However, they do still have a blog up at http://blog.groundspring.org -- there may be some life in them yet, even if they are releasing their white papers and specs in .doc format.
DBDesigner4 - certainly the most complete free product in this category. http://www.fabforce.net/dbdesigner4/ . There is an open Request For Package (204475 ). It's GPL licenced, and it needs Kylix 3 or Delphi 7 to compile. cf. http://www.fabforce.net/downloadfile.php?iddownloadfile=7