The Houdini Project

Fundraising Software for Non-Profits Joins Conservancy

November 14, 2018

First we were excited find out that a project like the Houdini Project even existed and now we can proudly say that they are also a Conservancy member! Services and applications for non-profits -- that are also free software -- are very close to our fiscal umbrella heart here at Conservancy. Houdini is our second incoming project this year that specifically caters to the needs of non-profits. Back in May, we welcomed Backdrop CMS a lightweight content management system that is great for non-profits, to the Conservancy fold. As long-time readers of the Conservancy blog know, the offerings for non-profits that care about software freedom are pretty slim, which is why we've also been working on our own non-profit accounting solution.

The Houdini Project's ('Houdini's) software is used by many worthy and hard-working organizations, but perhaps the most notable is the Panzi Foundation. The foundation focuses on ending sexual violence in wars and supporting survivors at the Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo as they rebuild their lives. Panzi Foundation's co-founder, Dr. Denis Mukwege, a surgeon and activist who has devoted his life to this work received a Nobel Peace Prize this year. Other major users include Public Radio Exchange, and Charter for Compassion.

The Houdini fundraising software grew out of CommitChange, a company which provides a full platform of software and services for non-profits to help optimize their online fundraising efforts. CommitChange continues to run a lightly modified version of the Houdini Project's software and will continue to participate in the community. Houdini is Conservancy's first project licensed under the Affero General Public License, and Conservancy assisted the developers in switching to this license by drafting an additional permission that handles some details unique to the project. Both Houdini and Conservancy strongly believe a web-enabled copyleft license is crucial for building a robust, communal resource. The Houdini software is now going to be a part of Conservancy so that other non-profits and fundraising professionals can also use its donation processing, fundraising platforms or event and donor management tools in their own work.

"Non-profits and the public that benefits from their work stand the most to gain from free software but historically most of the critical software they rely on has been proprietary. We look forward to this changing as Houdini makes their powerful -- and free -- fundraising software available to even more non-profits." says Karen Sandler, Conservancy's Executive Director.

"It's already been a pretty amazing year at Houdini. Helping a Nobel Prize winner with their much needed work really reminds you that software building can be an incredibly effective force for positive social change. Houdini exists because so many nonprofits have unique needs which don't fit into the "one-size fits all" boxes provided by proprietary fundraising tools. As we grow with Conservancy, we're looking forward to enabling more amazing organizations.", says Eric Schultz, Project Leader for the Houdini Project.

To learn more about the Houdini Project, visit or visit the repository at

Conservancy, a public charity focused on ethical technology, is the home of nearly fifty member projects dedicated to developing free and open source software. Conservancy acts as a corporate umbrella, allowing member projects to operate as charitable initiatives without having to independently manage their own corporate structure and administrative services.

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