CiviCRM 101 2009

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Facilitated by CiviCRM Core Team

This introductory session is designed for non-profit staff and techies of all levels who want to learn about CiviCRM's capabilities and see examples of how it's being used by a range of organizations. Specific topics will be driven by participant interest, but may include:

  • Jargon unravelling - What is a CRM? What is a CMS and what's the value of integrating a CRM with a CMS?
  • CiviCRM Components: Contributions and Pledges, Event and Membership Management, Broadcast Email, Case Management, Grants
  • Whoʼs Using CiviCRM - some examples from the field
  • Benefits and risks of adopting an open source tool like CiviCRM
  • Resources for learning more

Session Notes

H1. Into to CiviCRM H2. Background

  • CiviCRM is a projected developed a maintained by a non profit foundation
  • in existence for 4 1/2 years
  • Community driven, supported by a core team of about 14 people in SF, Poland, India
  • GPL licensed - main restriction is that if you modify the software and offer it other people, you must contribute those changes back to the project
  • PHP/MySQL
  • download at sourceforge
  • fully managed SaaS options are available through other external providers (not run by CiviCRM)
  • community forum is where most of the users interact, get support etc.
    • Simple machines is the forum platform, which is connected to Drupal for authentication
      • Participation on the forums is growing, and the community is starting to provide support and answers, but currently most come from the core team
  • IRC and Wiki documentation
    • wiki docs are growing from user community contributions
  • Book/manual was done in a 5 day sprint with Floss Manuals
    • lulu.com provides print on demand
  • CiviCRM was based on the the idea that the constituent is the center of interest and all other things should tie back to that "contact"
    • everything else are events or additional info gets tied to the constituent's record
    • Born to live within a CMS (Drupal add on to manage information about people specifically)
      • Create a seamless interchange between your front end (donations form, marketing efforts etc) and the back end to add new records to your DB
      • Plays most nicely with Drupal but is CMS agnostic in theory.
      • Permissions management is the key feature that works best with Drupal
        • constituents automatically get a Drupal account with correct access levels

H2. Features overview:

  • CiviCRM has core features, then optional components that can be turned off and on in the admin control panel
    • Sized to fit needs of each installation
  • for each constituent, there is an activity record
    • phone call, email, meeting, as basic, but can be customized to log whatever other activity you may want to track
    • Configure custom data fields for any activity type, which can allow for the creation
  • Event Management tools to allow for registration management with payment gateway using about 15 different payment processor gateways
  • contribution component allows individual donations and tracks history etc.
  • CiviCRM support "profiles" which is a basic form generation tool that ties into Drupal to allow user to update any fields they have permissions for directly
  • 3 different types of contacts in the out box version: individuals, households, organizations

H2. how its being used today

  • currently extending it to handle grassroots/community organizing
    • track progress through the organization, almost like a training platform, who is new, who is ready to lead a town hall etc.
    • track door knocking campaigns, and register interest generated from those efforts
    • how to manage continuous follow up from initial contact to active members

H2. who is using it?

  • wikipedia/wikimedia uses for their fundraising
  • amnesty international
  • US PERG
  • Breast cancer research
  • conservation fund
  • figure about 6000 installs, but very from very small to those larger ones

H2. reporting

  • was initially a search and export feature
  • working to incorporate more built in reporting tools
    • focus is on report templates that can be modified and saved as standard reports for the installation
    • allow for the contribution of new templates and reporting capabilities through some mySQL/PHP programming
    • for more complex needs, connect the DB to an external reporting app
    • can trigger scheduled reports via email as PDFs through simple cron jobs

h2. CiviMail email blaster

  • bounce tracking, unsubs
  • tokens for mail merge etc.
  • CiviSMTP provides a service for outboand mail (deliverability concerns etc.)

h2. How to roadmap

  • There is a public issue tracker (JIRA)
  • roadmap is published
  • community input
  • core team moderates forums and issue tracker for input and update roadmap as needed
  • paid features are starting to come in to play
    • more to prioritize, still must be of general interest