CiviCRM's volunteer feature received an A for usability in NTEN's 2011 Nonprofit Data Eco-System report.
The Gathering of Leaders
The Gathering of Leaders
P.O. Box 4032878704 Austin, TX
The Gathering of Leaders is an initiative for ministry and mission enhancement for selected Episcopal Clergy who have the proven leadership skills to make things happen creatively through others. The purpose of the Gathering of Leaders is to assist in the empowerment, support, and development of such leaders. To this end, the Gathering provides a place for leaders to come together without contentiousness and partisanship to share their love of Christ and of the Church, to empower each other through mutual encouragement, to deepen their skills as transformational leaders, to establish networks which will aid their ministries, and to clarify their understanding of God’s emerging vision for the renewed Episcopal Church. The Gathering of Leaders has accomplished it's mission through conferences, called Gatherings held four times each year at locations throughout the United States. The Gathering of Leaders had grown steadily and was being restrained as an organization by a communication bottleneck. All registration for Gatherings was by personal email with the the Director who is also the Gathering of Leader's only employee. All invitations to new members were also sent by email one at a time. The organization had reached as size where growth was retarded by the inefficiency. They were ready to move to five gatherings but needed a better way to organize and communicate. The CiviCRM/Drupal site gathered all their contact data in one place. Which eliminated time spent maintaining email lists in GMail and Constant Contact. Online registration via CiviEvent eliminated hundreds of emails back and forth. These efficiencies have allowed the Gathering of Leaders to expand to an additional Gathering per year.
The Gathering of Leaders is a geographically dispersed group of clergy in the Episcopal Church whose primary activity is four to five gatherings of members per year. At the start of this project there was no method of communication among the members that was centrally accessible. All communication was via email, one-to-one and a Constant Contact newsletter. The goal of the project was to build a website to serve as the central point of contact: between members in member organized groups and from the organization via CiviCRM. Members would be able to self-register for gatherings and maintain their own contact information. Newsletters would now be sent from the site, enabling there to be only one repository of email addresses. All these efficiencies would free time for the Director to focus on the needs of the growing organization.
This is the Gathering of Leaders first website, so the project has all the challenges of online community building. Participants have been fairly quick to adopt online registration for Gatherings. Group formation on the site around areas of interest in continuing but would have been greatly assisted if we had recruited some leaders and authors in advance of launch so that there were already groups with interesting content at site launch.
CiviCRM could be customized as needed to fit their needs because it is open source and highly configurable. This is a relatively small organization with limited resources, so CiviCRM was available at a far lower cost than the proprietary solutions that are available. It was chosen over other open source solutions such as Drupal's Conference Organizing Distribution because of it's more robust feature set, such as: automated wait lists, activity tracking and integrated bulk mail management.
C3 Design: The Rev. Shawn Duncan, Lead Developer The Gathering of Leaders: Ms. Mary Parmer, Executive Director, The Gathering of Leaders; The Rev. Paige Blair, Rector, St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Del Mar, CA; The Rev. Chip Edens, Rector, Christ Episcopal Church, Charlotte, NC; The Rev. Michael E. Blewett, Rector, Christ Episcopal Church, Bowling Green, KY
Online event registration, the ability for members to maintain their own contact info, and creating interest groups organically, without developer assistance were the most important features.
We built custom name tag layouts, and modified the default pager code to display a longer list of items by default. We installed the open source CKFinder and modified CiviCRM to use this file browser for adding images to CiviMail mailings. We also adapted code from the Drupal CKEdit module to provide authentication against the Drupal users table to CKFinder. We created a custom Panels layout for the interest group home directory page.
The site is hosted by a small shared hosting company that specializes in Drupal sites. Shared hosting keeps the cost workable for this small organization. The Drupal specific focus of the host also means that sufficient memory is available to run Drupal and CiviCRM.
We shared our approach to integrating CKFinder into CiviCRM via the community wiki site: http://wiki.civicrm.org/confluence/display/CRMDOC40/Adding+CKFinder+with+Authentication+to+CiviCRM