How is eConvenor different from NationBuilder?
NationBuilder's focus is external, eConvenor's focus is internal.
NationBuilder is all about your group's relationships with people outside the core of your group — your supporters and donors.
eConvenor's focus is getting your group better organised internally, with a focus on making meetings productive and making sure people in the group do the tasks they are responsible for.
There's no significant overlapping functionality between eConvenor and NationBuilder that we know of.
How is eConvenor different from tools like Basecamp, Asana and PB Works?
eConvenor is built specifically for community and activist groups.
eConvenor has things in common with online project management tools, but there are important differences:
Convenor has a focus on meetings. It's built to make meetings productive and capture meeting outcomes (i.e. tasks and decisions) by producing very clear, informative agendas and minutes. We're yet to find another web service which does this. Well organised and documented meetings are vitally important for effective activist groups.
Convenor is built for loose-knit groups. Whereas all group members need to have their own account on other services and log in to it regularly, with eConvenor only the group's convenors have an account. eConvenor "pushes" information like agendas, minutes and tasks out to the group via email, so group members don't need to manage yet another web account.
eConvenor is built by activists specifically for activist groups. Other services, although free (or often "freemium"), are driven by a profit motive and they're not tailored to activists.
How does eConvenor make money?
eConvenor isn't supposed to make money.
eConvenor is a tool made by activists to help other activists. We work on and run eConvenor for free. Money is not our motivation. eConvenor won't carry advertising, won't sell your data and won't charge a fee for "premium" features.
Like everything though, eConvenor has some operating costs, so we ask better funded groups to contribute financially if they can, and we require a financial contribution from political parties and trade unions.
Most groups who use eConvenor will have a tiny budget, or no budget at all. These are the groups we had in mind when we built it, and they can use eConvenor for free and with no obligations.
eConvenor will never make a profit. All money which we receive for eConvenor will go back into running and improving eConvenor.
Who is behind eConvenor?
Two Australian activists.
eConvenor was started by two activists from Melbourne, Australia — Keira and Sky.
For a few decades we've seen how campaigns and groups struggle to organise themselves and get things done efficiently.
One day we realised that a lot of the work of convening a group could be done by a computer, so although we don't have IT backgrounds, we decided to try and make a "virtual convenor". eConvenor is the result and the service launched in April 2014.
Is eConvenor secure?
It's as secure as we can make it, but all security is relative.
There's no such thing as perfect computer security — data is routinely stolen even from well-resourced targets like governments and transnational corporations. We do our best to keep eConvenor secure, but we can't give any guarantees.
Broadly speaking, there are three types of security to consider with regard to data held in a web service — security against theft, security against government demand and security against accidental loss.
Theft: eConvenor is built on Django. Django is a mature, open-source web-application framework which has had plenty of time to get the underlying security right. eConvenor is hosted by Webfaction in the Netherlands. Webfaction are a Platform as a Service (PaaS) provider who make sure that the server which eConvenor runs on is up-to-date and well maintained. eConvenor shouldn't be an easy target for data theft.
Government demand: eConvenor is based in Australia and runs on a server in the Netherlands. We will only hand data over to a government agency if we are forced to by a valid court order, and even then we'll fight against any demand vigorously. Note though that goverment agencies have used sophisticated technical means to secretly collect data from even the largest web service providers (Gmail, Facebook, etc) and eConvenor's code and servers might be vulerable to such attacks.
Accidental loss: We keep multiple backups of your data on our Netherlands server, and multiple backups of your data on our machines in Australia. The possibility of accidental loss of data is remote. Also, eConvernor emails you all your agendas and minutes, so you also have your own copies of much of the data which eConvenor stores for you.
Can I trust sensitive data to eConvenor?
Yes, but be sensible.
eConvenor's Terms and Conditions require us to protect your data and keep it confidential. They form a contract with you which we are bound by, and we take our responsibilities under it very seriously. We handle the data stored in eConvenor with stricter confidentiality than for-profit services like Google Drive or Dropbox.
Remember though, that if your data is very sensitive, you should not be trusting it to any online service. Very sensitive data should be carefully encrypted and stored on computers and storage media which you own and can keep physically secure.
Will eConvenor sell or share any of my data?
We will not voluntarily give/transfer/sell/whatever your data to anyone for any reason.
If we are pressured to hand over data by a government agency, we will resist vigorously, but if we are faced with a valid court order, we will comply with it.
How can I know eConvenor wasn't set up to spy on activists?
Sadly, you can't.
We don't like it, but we have to say it: setting up a service like eConvenor would be a good way for an intelligence service (or services) to spy on activist groups.
Although we know we're not spies, cops, or anything of that nature, there's nothing we can do or say that can prove that to you. That said, you can't know whether any web service might be spying on you. Keep in mind also that we know that services like Google and Facebook — which many groups use to organise themselves — are spying on their users.
With all data your group puts online, whether with eConvenor or any other web service, ask yourself if it would be a problem if government agencies saw it. For most groups, the answer to that question will be "no" most of the time. When the answer is "yes" though, keep that data off the internet unless you really know your way around encryption tools.
Can I run eConvenor on my own server?
If your group wants the security of running eConvenor on hardware which you control access to, we understand.
All of eConvenor's code is available in our Github repository. If your group has a progresive focus, is not-for-profit and is not a government agency, feel free to run an eConvenor instance on your own server.
If you're doing this and would like help, let us know.
Can I do something to help eConvenor in just 5 minutes?
Yes, by spreading the word via social media.
We'd love it if you'd Tweet or Facebook a recommendation about eConvenor to the activists you know.
One of our main challenges at the moment is getting word about eConvenor to the people and groups who will benefit from using it. If you can take a few minutes to help us with that we'd really, really appreciate it!
Can I work on the eConvenor project?
We're desperate for switched-on, reliable, nice people to work on eConvenor.
eConvenor has the potential to be a great tool for activists around the world, and it needs a lot of work for it to realise that potential. We welcome people to work on it with us.
eConvenor is a very rewarding project. It has clear goals, high standards, is well organised and produces tangible results. It's also coordinated by nice people who are good to work with.
To work on eConvenor you must be sensible, focused, good at cooperating with other people and have good politics.
We are looking specifically for people with skills in coding (Python/Django), web development (HTML/CSS/JS), web application security, graphic design and writing/communications.
There are also always miscellaneous tasks which need doing, and the only pre-requisite for working on them is an ability to take some initiative and solve problems.
You probably realise this already, but just to be clear: eConvenor does not offer paid positions. It's a volunteer-run project.
If you're interested, check out our page for people who'd like to work with us!
Can I donate money to eConvenor?
Please go to our donations page.