The Deep Adaptation Forum is an online community dedicated to exploring inner and outer adaptation to the impacts of climate change, and fostering mutual help. Our community is powered by over 100 volunteers, and supported by a small team of freelancers working part-time and on a shoestring.
Right now, our community is spread over a Facebook group (12k members), a Ning site (3k members), and a LinkedIn group (3k members). Our volunteers and core team members mainly interact within a paid Slack workspace.
We want to introduce a new platform to our community that would enable us to let go of our Ning site (which most users find clunky and outdated), and which would also prove user-friendly and attractive enough to many members of our Facebook group (which is a platform that sucks for many reasons: data ownership, notifications, the algorithms, etc.)
A group of our volunteers went through a strategic consultation process, involving lots of folks, to figure out what our needs should be. Our conclusion is that ideally, this new platform should serve the following functions:
- Including participants from various linguistic backgrounds, with different degrees of technological ability and access to the internet;
- Enabling small teams to gather and collaborate over their own projects;
- Supporting the emergence of local groups and mutual aid initiatives (maps, etc.);
- Setting up and managing online courses and trainings;
- Front-end scheduling of events;
- Smoothly setting up video-conference events.
Our budget is pretty low: about 50-60 euros per month.
So far, among the solutions we've looked into, BuddyBoss seems to be a pretty decent choice, as it supports:
- course creation and management (via LearnDash LMS);
- event management (via TheEventCalendar);
- group creation;
- Zoom calls integration; etc.
Besides, BB is built over Wordpress, which is the platform we're already using for our official website infrastructure, so we can actually self-host BB. And even while we would need to purchase several WP plugins to enable the functions above, the total cost would only be around $46/m, which is well within our budget.
The main drawbacks we've identified so far would be:
- the need to spend a fair amount of time customizing the platform to make sure it works well and suits our needs;
- the smartphone apps have to be purchased separately, and are too pricey for us atm.
A runner-up to BB would be the open-source version of OpenSocial, but like BB, it would require a lot of hands-on effort to make it work well it seems (and we don't have any Drupal developers among us).
I'm wondering whether we might have missed any other options that would suit our needs as well or better than either of these options? Please let me know if you have any recommendations or advice!