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For Good First Issue: Introducing a new way to contribute

For Good First Issue is a curated list of open source projects that are also digital public goods and need the help of developers.

Screenshot of For Good First Issue website

Nonprofits and social sector open source projects need your help!

One of the reasons that I joined GitHub was for the potential to activate a community of developers to make the world a better place. Among the 100+ million developers on the platform, there are passionate, caring, and skilled tech enthusiasts who can lend their expertise for good. I’ve had the opportunity to connect with developers over the years and have heard that it’s not always easy to find a project for social good. That’s why, today our team is excited to launch For Good First Issue, a place that empowers developers to collaborate on open source projects with missions that are driven by social impact.

From governments working on public health issues to grassroots nonprofits working to solve societal challenges in their community, GitHub is the home for developer collaboration in both the private and public sectors. For Good First Issue is a tool that we’ve developed to help nonprofits take advantage of the generosity of technologists around the world—free of charge. Nonprofits often lack funding and resources to solve society’s challenges through tech solutions. Our hope is that through this new program, we can inch closer to bridging the gap between open source technologies and positive change.

Open source projects for good

For Good First Issue is a curated list of open source projects recognized as digital public goods (DPGs) that need help! DPGs are open source software, open data, open AI systems, and open content collections that support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDGs is a collection of 17 interlinked objectives designed to serve as a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. The SDGs recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth—all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

In order to be recognized as DPGs, projects must have been found to meet the DPG Standard, which ensures they adhere to privacy and other applicable best practices, and do no harm by design. The DPG Standard is also designed to complement other relevant principles, such as the Principles for Digital Development, and is applicable to DPGs in all sectors across the 17 SDGs. The DPG Standard is itself an open source project open to contribution on GitHub, and developed in collaboration with organizations and experts.

But the challenge remains: how can we bring open source developers and DPGs together to identify issues they can work on. One way GitHub is tackling this is with the launch of For Good First Issue.

Screenshot of For Good First Issue website that allows you to explore a Digital Public Goods project.
For Good First Issue is where developers can explore a Digital Public Goods project to lend their skills to.

Lend your technical expertise to a DPG

This list of DPGs is ever-evolving. Below are just two examples of projects and how you can lend your skills to make a positive impact today.

  • Human Essentials is an inventory management system for essentials banks. An organization’s essentials bank works to distribute items to their partners and people in need, and Human Essentials helps to track the inventory of those banks, as well as provide statistics about their inventory flows. The banks maintain inventory, receive donations and other human essential supplies (for example, diapers, menstruation supplies), and then issue distributions to community partner organizations. Human Essentials supports over 200 registered essentials banks across the United States and Canada for free and is currently helping over three million children receive diapers. It has also supported over 400,000 people in need of menstruation supplies.

    How you can help: Human Essentials needs help with a range of issues that are great for beginners and more advanced developers, including implementing password complexity requirements and an improvement for manual testing.

  • ODK is an open source mobile data collection platform that works across a range of SDGs and is primarily used by organizations working in social impact. The tool has been used for a variety of services, from monitoring cash assistance to 1.6 million foreigners in Türkiye to guiding conservation of flatback turtles in Australia. It helps researchers, field teams, and other professionals build powerful forms to collect whatever data they need.

    How you can help: are you a front-end developer? ODK needs help with front-end improvements to make the platform more user-friendly.

Get started

Head to For Good First Issue and choose a topic that you are passionate about. You can locate a topic by SDG or by software language. Then, find an issue and get started. You will see issues labeled as bugs or enhancements. Whether you’re new to software development, an open source maintainer, or a developer who is looking to jump into a project after some time, your skills will help a nonprofit achieve their mission.

Do you have a project that you think should be on this list? Let us know by submitting an issue here.

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