We had a lively meetup at Wikimedia Foundation HQ in San Francisco last week with a nice turnout (around 15 folks), despite the super crummy weather (again :-( ). Jackie Downing, Development and Communications Manager at the Gay-Straight Alliance Network shared their experiences implementing and using CiviCRM and Drupal. GSA Network empowers youth activists to fight homophobia in schools. If you've heard of the Make it Better Project - you've seen some of the great work they are doing.
Jackie reviewed their decision process in selecting a CRM (which included overcoming their "fear of open source"), and then shared some details of their implementation. GSA stores high school, GSA club, teacher advisor and student liason information in CiviCRM. They use CiviCRM Profiles to automate their GSA club registration process, and to provide a map-based directory of existing clubs. Overall, they are super happy with CiviCRM and the power it gives them - particularly in the fund-raising area. The one significant pain point for them currently is that they are still using a 3rd party service to send out their eNewsletter. The newsletter is quite large and complex, and there were concerns about managing / editing it within CiviMail. They will be working with a new CiviCRM consultancy this year, and looking forward to solving this problem so they can have a fully integrated solution.
We also spent some time reviewing the new features in the 3.4 release. I put together a brief slide-show for this which you can download from the wiki in PDF or Powerpoint format if you're interested in viewing it or using it for a meetup.
It's really helpful to hear end-user organizations discuss their implementation process. If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area and are a CiviCRM user, integrator or developer - and you're interested in sharing your experiences and/or leading a discussion on any Civi-related topic .... send me mail at dave at civicrm dot org.
Join us at the next SF meetup - April 7th, 2011!