Around nine years ago, my wife Virginie was Executive Director for the Rocky Mountain French American Chamber of Commerce, and struggling with Excel spreadsheets, paper memberships forms, and email-based event registration. She asked me to help her find a software to manage her nonprofit. Little did we know that this would have such a huge impact on both of our lives ...
We of course selected CiviCRM, she very successfully converted her nonprofit to using CiviCRM, and it has been invaluable in supporting the organization's growth over the next few years. When the time came for both of us to consider new professional challenges, we sat down and looked at our options. She had thoroughly enjoyed working with CiviCRM, and clearly identified a market need for professional services. I was already working with open source software and loved it. So we decided (maybe against common knowledge!) to start a company together, providing
CiviCRM hosting, maintenance, training and support services. Cividesk was born.
I then booked a trip to go to CiviCon San Francisco in order to learn more about CiviCRM. This has been an experience like no others, meeting Lobo and Dave, speaking with the other service providers, feeling welcomed with open arms and such great generosity. I had heard before that "you come to CiviCRM for the software, and stay for the Community". This is absolutely true, and I would highly encourage all readers to come experience the CiviCRM Community at CiviCon Colorado in just a few weeks.
Since then, I have fully embraced the CiviCRM Community. There are so many ways anyone can contribute to this Community, whether this is to ask (or give) advice on StackExchange, signal (or resolve) issues on the tracker, contribute (or test) code in Github. Each of these interactions, however insignificant they can appear, contribute to building a vibrant ecosystem around CiviCRM.
Reflecting back on the past five years at Cividesk, it certainly has been a lot of work, but incredibly fulfilling. Engineer love learning and solving technical challenges. I can safely say that I still have my fair share of this every day: CiviCRM is such a rich and complex software that even after all this time, and accompanying and supporting so many nonprofits with CiviCRM, there still are areas that we have not fully discovered yet. For example we have barely scratched the surface of what is possible with CiviCase, have not used the accounting batches in all but the more straightforward setups, and are just launching a multi-site installation of significant scale.
In conclusion, my advice to any organization considering or using CiviCRM would be to look at the whole picture: as much as the software itself is superior to any other CRM for nonprofits (and getting better with each new release), the thriving community around it is such an important part of the experience. Come meet us, get involved and feel the power!