2010-09-05 15:10
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Sometimes I get frustrated with CiviCRM. For all the great features there are problems / limitations that we seem to keep hitting. So, if lots of people want the same things added / fixed why aren’t they being fixed?

Quite simply – someone has to pay for a developer to spend time on it. Many organisations would benefit from, for example, being able to collect additional information about the ‘on-behalf-of’ organisation through the contribution form, or improvements to de-duping but no ONE organisation will benefit sufficiently to step up and foot the bill.  

 In a licensed software situation we would all be putting in an amount each month that would enable many people to fund the development of features that benefit many. However, in Open Source there is no ongoing income for development – much of it is the ‘scratch your itch’ variety which means that sometimes we get lucky and get great new functionality like CiviCase off the back of a large organisation’s sponsorship. Often, however, 10 organisations will spend $1000 each working around a problem that would cost $5000 to fix and build into the CiviCRM core for everyone to benefit from.

So, how can we make it happen?

Put simply we need to find a way to enable and encourage smaller organisations to contribute financially towards developing CiviCRM in directions which are of benefit to them. In my perfect world we would have a system somewhat like User Voice in which the ‘votes’ are bought and can be manipulated fairly fluidly by the end user until a particular sponsorship target it met. But, we’re not there yet so I won’t wax on about how I imagine it working.

For now, I have managed to get the go-ahead from Lobo to trial a Civi-Make-it-Happen initiative based on existing CiviCRM functionality on the CiviCRM site. I have set up contribution pages for 5 of the ‘commonly requested items seeking sponsorship’ off the Roadmap for release 3.3. Code freeze is pretty soon so we only have until 21 Sep to try to raise the funds to get any of these things included. If they don’t make the cut you have the option (choose on the contribution page) of :


  1.     Having your money put towards the other Civi-Make-It-Happen initiatives
  2.     Having your money towards re-seeding the initiative for Release 3.4
  3.     Having your money refunded back onto your credit card

If none of the current initiatives are of interest to you please consider making a small donation anyway to encourage the Civi-Make-It-Happen project. Note that as punishment for suggesting it I have been put in charge of administering the Make-it-Happen initiative so contact me with any questions but obviously use the forums for general questions on it.

The initiatives we are putting up for sponsorship right now are:


Organisation - on behalf of - use profile

Allow the use of a profile for information about an organisation on contribution forms

Smart groups optimisation + inclusion in groups contact tab


This initiative will result in the contact tab displaying the smart groups a contact belongs to as well as their 'hard' groups on their contact tab. Some optimisation of smart groups will be carried out in order to implement this


Get CiviCampaign included in Core. You can get more information in the Support Canvassing and GOTV blog post

Integrate "Address Inheritance from Organization to an Individual" work with "Current Employer" field on Contact Edit form

This will automatically link a contact's work address with their employer's address off the contact summary (and potentially extendable to the on-behalf-of form)

Dedupe improvements

There are numerous suggestions that have been made to improve de-duping – we’re hoping to raise enough to at least start with the merging of CMS records. UPDATE: we have now raised this & are trying to raise funds for the exception table.

    * Batch dedupe and merge (Jason's Blog Post) - 50 hour
    * Rationalization and restructuring of the strict/fuzzy rules (Xavier's Blog Post) - 20 hours
    * Allowing specific workflows to use a specific dedupe rule (Xavier's Blog Post) - 30 hours
    * Adding an "exception table". Two contacts that are similar are not the same and the user can report that so that the dedupe rules dont include it in the merge candidate list. JIRA Issue - 20 hours
    * Add PREV/NEXT links to merge screen - 20 hours
    * Merging CMS User Records - 10 hours



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Good work Eileen ;-)

Seems that another great initiative to support this great initiative would be to have the Honor Roll that is possible on PCPs to work for these too. But I won't ask you to add that to the list (yet).

This also seems a great way of consultants who helping out other consultants or newbies, and who don't want to charge them directly for the time involved, to suggest that the 'make a donation' to one of their pet 'pain points'.

Anonymous (not verified)
2010-09-05 - 21:57

I was just looking for something like this, so it's great to see and I've made a donation as well.

A project I would really like to contribute to is 'Report Sort Order': (unless I've missed that this is already in the pipeline?). It does seem like an obvious requirement to make CiviReport functional.


Anonymous (not verified)
2010-09-05 - 22:13

Great idea Eileen. Do you think there's any chance you can get this on the website frontpage to boost awareness?

Only $500 more needed for improved deduping!


And love the name.

(still not convinced by flash for these widgets, but that's the topic for another make it happen ;)

Got around to see if I can help make it happen.


This is a brilliant idea. My organization is especially interested in de-duping. However, we don't have the cash flow to contribute money for something that may or may not happen. If we could pledge towards it and only have be charged if the feature is delivered, that would be a more ideal situation. Plus, we'd like to know more about exactly what de-duping improvements will be delivered before paying up.


If the Make-it-Happen initiative is a success we'll definitely have to look at pledge options. However, my worry is that we could get involved in running around chasing up people to pay in money that has been committed.

WRT the idea - Lobo suggested using it but my reservation about using Kickstarter here it doesn't allow people to make a donation if the particular initiative doesn't fly. So far the contributions made have mostly been more donations than conditional sponsorships although we'll see how it pans out. There is also a scenario that kickstarter doesn't support where consultants ask people to make a donation to CiviCRM instead of paying them for a minor service.

The de-dupe initiative is definitely attracting the most attention at the moment - the $750 is for just the merging of the CMS user records on merge but providing that is reached we will try to extend the reach of this effort. I guess I'll have to find a way to canvas which of the suggested improvements people are most interested in. (I have also received another suggestion via personal message)


Read the wiki and the posts if you want to get the details of what is behind these dedupe improvments. This is going to be nice improvements, already backed by benchmarks and tests.

I would understand your doubts, but if history is a good indicator, the civi project has constantly delivered for several years. Not that I doubt that you will stick to your pledge and pay, but so far, Civicrm has had a better track record than "Eric Rogers (unverified)" ;)

This being said, you can reply here with your name and name of the organization pledging to pay x hundred usd y days after the beta containing the improved dedupe.

Why not have all the folks that provide consulting services give some cut of their income from jobs to you guys? I'm currently talking to my accountant to find out if I it's better to give a portion of income or of profit. I want to make sure that this project stays afloat!

Yes, I think that's a great idea - we are also speaking to some of our customers about budgetting money for contributing directly to CiviCRM - both for ethical reasons and because and the benefits to them in terms of improvements to CiviCRM.

Anonymous (not verified)
2010-09-07 - 15:04

I ran across his a few months ago when someone was trying to crowdsource funding for a Delorean Hovercraft (seriously)

This website is genius. I'm furious that I didn't think of it first.

The Civi Team could set up an account and use that to collect and manage project money. I think that it will allow for easy refunds, as well.

Great post, great idea. We are a not-for-profit technology consulting organization, and we use CiviCRM with several of our clients. I think one of the big challenges for open source projects like CiviCRM, is the way the "resellers" market it, and deal with their clients. The people paying the money are paying it to the consulting organization, and that organization is often perceived as the service provider, CiviCRM is not the service provider. If there were a stronger identification with CiviCRM on the part of the actual users, they might be more interested in contributing to its development. They might realize that they have as much stake in its success, as they do in the success of the local consultant who built the CiviCRM system for them.

This obviously doesn't apply to organization that choose to use Civi and implement it themselves. But a lot of the "market" is organizations that are paying for someone else's time to help them, and that can end up being a barrier to participation and support of Civi itself. I think consultants in this space really owe it to their clients to talk up the nature of the open source model behind Civi, and to act as surrogate participants in the development process on behalf of their clients.

I've blogged about this, and wrote a related journal article a few years ago too:

Blog: The Development Commons Approach

Article: Supporting Not-for-Profits: an Opportunity for the Commons




Your list still contains items that have been already implemented, or that civi will work on. Could you ammend it ?

Also, how much is each item, and what has been rised so far ?

I'd love to see CiviCRM implement an easy backup-and-restore function (see thread) that would make it easy to move my userdata in and out of CiviCRM. This would provide a good backup, let me easily manipulate data with other programs, and make it easier to upgrade if I happen to miss a version or two. That's my suggestion for an addition to this helpful list, and I'd be happy to pledge toward its implementation.

Jim Goodman (not verified)
2010-09-08 - 10:32

I work with a client that needed some extra work done on the "Events" side, so that discounts can be given to existing members and not require a coupon code, etc. In taking on this work, I talked with the client and we agreed that after the work is done and proven, that we would make this available to the community.

Since they are a non-profit, they saw it as a great way to return to the community for work that they were going to have done anyway… Not to mention that the CiviCRM project does so much to help non-profits, this return was an easy decision.

So I don't think that it's necessarily the responsibility of the developer to give part of their earnings to the project, I think that developers can work with their clients to help build the community themselves, making it a win/win for all. The developer gets the work, the community gets the source, and the client gets a benefit by returning to the community. I feel that those that contribute will probably be looked on more favorably in the community :-).

I have a client that has pledged $500 to making PCP offline contributions possible they will have budget after the new year.  FYI


thanks for taking the initiative on this Eileen

Hi Eileen,
This is a brilliant initiative, many thanks for all the work you've put into it. Just a quick question - what is the process for adding additional features (for example for the 3.4 queue)?
I spoke to Lobo some time ago about the idea of allowing contacts to be more than one sub-type, but my understanding is that this would take considerable work. We have a little money to put into the pot to start the ball rolling if there is any interest (in the region of $1,500).
Many thanks,

Hi Eileen,

We are a few years down the track with MIH's and so is Kickstarter, both projects are going strong.

I understand that Kickstarter was considered to crowdfund development but we chose to run MIH on because of more flexible administration of the funds. i.e. The Kickstarter model's drawback is that it is all or nothing.

What Kickstarter has in it's favour is critical mass. It has a much larger base of small-scale philanthropists. This is the kind of supporter that would be brilliant to have more of.

Now, I am not 100% sure that it hasn't already been tried, but do we think that it's time to setup a trial with a view to running Kickstarter and MIH in parallel on some projects?