Published
Thursday, February 17, 2011 - 07:57
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The first User Group meetup of 2011 was attended by 14 people from Bristol, the surrounding area and as far afield as Reading and London. Well done those travelling some distance to make it. There was a pretty good distribution of consultants/implementors, and users/admins and one or two interested to find out more.
We looked at a couple of specific features of Civi and in particular Make it happen - a relatively new initiative where individuals/organisations who would like a certain development to materialise, but it's beyond their financial reach put their limited money where their mouth is, in the hope that others across the world have the same aspiration and conviction. Integration with Joomla is just one development that has been born from this. Future candidates can be seen here and it is with interest that CiviAccounts is included within the larger projects list as this was an element brought up in an interesting open source deliberation.
A substantial amount of time was addressed to the premise of the meeting itself; Dave Greenberg's “ 2011 could be the year CiviCRM reaches critical mass”.  We started off a discussion about the community with some of us thinking along the lines of how can we strengthen the community but this lead into a conversation about what  the community can do to strengthen CiviCRM. There was a general understanding that the more uptake of Civi, the more people there will be to offer support on the forums, the more clients there will be for the providers of commercial consultancy and support and so the more established these will become and the more competition and varied offerings there will be from this quarter. This in turn offers benefits to existing users so everyone benefits. Someone afterwards expressed some surprise to witness end-users of a product offering to promote it while potential competitors discussed ways that everyone could work together more effectively - welcome to open source.
 
It was generally felt that it is a good thing to have a range of training on offer as with the one day introduction and two day more in-depth offerings in March and April. It seemed most people thought this was an important part of the ecosystem and could be an important factor in the decision of some organisations to adopt a product like Civi.There was a call for more high quality online materials and perhaps webinars.
It was also recognised that there is a lack of awareness of CiviCRM and, indeed open source software more generally. Webinars and webcast videos were also identified as being useful ways of general awareness raising and several other ideas were put forward:
  • flesh out the wikipedia entry!
  • ensure proper representation for Civi on ICT Knowledgebase and other relevant sites
  • perform an SEO exercise on civicrm.org 
  • engage more with Drupal groups and promote there
  • generate some head to head comparisons with other products
  • produce a UK centric website for charities with testimonials from current users and case studies
  • on civicrm.org view for providers expose country so users can see how many UK based providers there are
  • raise money for some promotion! (an ad in the Guardian was suggested)
  • tweet more about Civi (use the #civicrm hash tag)
  • follow @civicrm on Twitter
  • like Civi on FaceBook
 
Wow! Lot's to do, lots of enthusiasm. Let's do it...
 

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