Newsletter: Competitions, videos, and the new version of FrontlineSMS

In case you missed it, here's our inaugural user newsletter, reproduced in full for your reading pleasure. Sign up on the right to receive updates from us (no more than once a month). Welcome to our first ever user newsletter. We hope you find it useful - and don't forget you can start your own discussions at our FrontlineSMS Community page!

FrontlineSMS 1.6 released

The new version of FrontlineSMS is out, packed with new features: an HTTP Trigger which allows you to use the software to send SMS to other applications; a plugin framework to make FrontlineSMS easier to adapt; new translations including Arabic, Bengali, Hindi, and Bahasa; and improved code behind the scenes.

Read more about these features and our plans for the future on our blog.

Feature in our new video!

We love the photos you've been sending in of your teams and supporters with their arms in the air, FrontlineSMS-style - o/ ! We love them so much, in fact, that we want to devote a whole video to them. Send in your photos to and we'll set them to music - and the first ten to send their photos get a free FrontlineSMS badge!

Get your stories, pictures and videos featured on the FrontlineSMS website!

FrontlineSMS is 100% funded by donors. Their support helps us continue to improve the software, and support you through our online community. But it's your stories that keep us going, and which shape our story, helping donors see how their money is making a difference out in the world. Telling us how you use the software and what impact it's had on your work, is one way you can help keep FrontlineSMS going - and in return, we can profile your work on our website and our blog. Submit your photos and stories by email to (or just tell us you're interested!) and we will start working with you to showcase your work in the most appropriate way. That might be a glossy, jointly-branded PDF case study aimed at donors; a guest post on our blog; a starring role in a video about FrontlineSMS; or even a visit from a journalist. We can't wait to hear from you!

News update: FrontlineSMS gets new funding, Ken gets an award from National Geographic, and our core team is growing

It's been a busy time at FrontlineSMS. In May we were awarded significant new funding from the Omidyar network, which will allow us to increase our support to our user community; grow our developer community; and help us grow our communications and fundraising capacity so that we can become more sustainable. The following week, our very own Ken Banks was honoured with a National Geographic Emerging Explorers Award. And since March we've expanded the team, welcoming Morgan Belkadi, our new programmer, and Laura Hudson, our Project Manager.

We hope you've enjoyed the newsletter - we'd love to hear what you think. Let us know your views, your requests for future newsletters, and any other comments at



FrontlineSMS secures new funding

Today, the Omidyar Network announced a two year investment of $350,000 for future FrontlineSMS technical and organisational development, the result of several months discussion and planning. Omidyar come on board as our fifth donor, with funding already in place from the Hewlett Foundation, Open Society Institute/HIVOS, and the Rockefeller Foundation. After three years with a mainly software and community focus, the second half of 2010 sees us turn more of our attention to organisational development, and it's already been something of a growth year.

After bringing Josh Nesbit on board in late 2009 (using the OSI/HIVOS funding), in the past few months we have hired two full-time software developers - Alex and Morgan (thanks to Hewlett and Rockefeller) - and brought on board a new FrontlineSMS Project Manager - Laura (also funded by Rockefeller). The diversity of donors and the breadth of support is testament to the work everyone is doing, particularly our increasingly innovative and growing user base. No-one said this was going to be easy when we started out way back in 2005, but we're making good progress.

We're also hugely grateful to the management at Wieden+Kennedy who have made room for us in their central London office, and provided us somewhere to base our growing team, all at no cost. Often corporate in-kind support like this can be overlooked (and the office is very cool, too).  o/

Today's Omidyar investment will support three specific activities.

  • Firstly, it will bolster our efforts to increase user adoption, and will support the work Josh and Laura are doing to create sector-specific communities (based on the use of FrontlineSMS in agriculture, human rights, the media, and so on).
  • Secondly, it will help further the work started using the Rockefeller funding to formalise and build on the growing FrontlineSMS developer community. Last week, for example, saw the release of a much-requested Reminders Plugin for FrontlineSMS, and other add-ons are in the works.
  • Finally, the new funding will help with much-needed organisational development, and allow us to explore other non-grant sources of income.

Further details on today's announcement are available on the Omidyar website.

Many thanks to Omidyar for their faith and support, from everyone at FrontlineSMS! We look forward to working with you over the coming two years.

New year, new funding, new release

We may only be a couple of days in, but 2010 is already promising to be another exciting year. After twelve months of steady growth (and one which saw us regularly exceed our limited technical capacity), late last month we were pleased to secure significant new funding. A $150,000 grant - our first from the Rockefeller Foundation - will allow us to increase the size of our FrontlineSMS developer team and better service the growing needs of our user, partner and developer communities. A huge thanks to Rockefeller for their support. o/

The revamped version of FrontlineSMS - originally funded by the MacArthur Foundation in 2007/2008 - has only been available for just short of 18 months, but we've already put out two significant upgrades, with a third imminent. Each of these has been shaped by user feedback and requests for new features, all co-ordinated through our active and growing online Community, probably one of our greatest achievements. The latest release includes new language support, a mapping module and extended ability to connect external software applications.

Over the past few months we've also been quietly working on a new SMS-based initiative with partners Wieden+Kennedy, Accenture Development Partnerships (ADP) and the GSM Association. Technical development on this Hewlett Foundation-funded project - which will solve one of the biggest challenges faced by many grassroots mobile initiatives - starts next month. More news on that, and the new FrontlineSMS release, soon!

NEWS: Hewlett Foundation announces major funding

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation have today announced a major grant in support of kiwanja's ongoing activities. The grant, worth a total of $400,000 over two years, will see the ongoing support and development of FrontlineSMS, the creation of an MMS (multimedia messaging) version of the platform, FrontlineSMS outreach, the creation of a non-profit online text messaging aggregator, and the scaling of the nGOmobile competition

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation makes grants to address the most serious social and environmental problems facing society, where risk capital, responsibly invested, may make a difference over time. The Foundation places a high value on sustaining and improving institutions that make positive contributions to society

The grant also represents the official launch of The kiwanja Foundation, a US non-profit organisation founded last year with the support of Perkins Coie. The kiwanja Foundation will act as a wider fundraising mechanism for kiwanja's work and, in the future, aims to become a source of seed funding for innovative "social mobile" projects

The Hewlett grant announced today follows previous grants from the MacArthur Foundation and the Open Society Institute. You can follow all the latest project news and updates via Twitter and/or the FrontlineSMS Supporters Group (on Facebook)