“CiviDay 2014” Meetup
Hosted by Electronic Frontier Foundation
San Francisco, CA
CiviDay San Francisco landed itself last night inside the headquarters for Electronic Frontier Foundation, an apt place to launch the new year and learn about Civi’s accessible open source software. I was asked to take notes of the robust discussion that took place that evening. As I'm new to this platform, I took extensive notes, but be sure to enlighten me if needed.
Dave Greenberg welcomed the group and gave a quick overview of the CiviCRM tool. The group held a diverse range of experience, from those who are new to CiviCRM to experienced users and developers. A brief review of CiviCRM was in order to start the evening. Dave covered CiviCRM with a few key points:
The discussion narrowed to data migration processes, types of uses and how to find solutions to problems or bugs that are detected. Several organizations were chosen to present specific use-case scenarios and a live, online walk-through of how they have set up their CiviCRM platform to address the unique needs and uses for each organization.
Noah Miller, Executive Director
Project: mass email send
With CiviCRM, the organization can:
Recommendations and comments from the group included:
East Bay Bicycle Coalition
Elena Diaz, Membership Coordinator
Project: phone bank donation request event
CiviCRM allows EBBC to:
Ben Fajen, President
Project: Member Organization website search and membership enrollment functions
Break out session: CiviCRM for new users, led by Dave Greenberg
CiviCRM platform that has been around for 9 years. It started as SaaS. They were searching for a reliable way to understand their constituents in nonprofit organizations, which require different types of information that is needed than for-profit companies. Among the early issues addressed were: security, backing up info, disconnected data silos and communication needs. CiviCRM is crafted particularly to address nonprofit organizations’ needs.
There was also an ideological/philosophical reason for developing CiviCRM as web-based open source software: in the nonprofit sector, open source is more in keeping with sector ideals, is more affordable, allows organizations to "own" their data, and enable them to constantly make improvements. Early on, CiviCRM got involved in Drupal content management system community, also open source. Using open source software can be vert useful for constituents for them to be able interact directly with their own data. Curating donor records from user experience is efficient, more accurate and an effective use of software to support building relationships with constituents.
Drupal and Joomla are popular as open source content management systems that allow you to embed CiviCRM within their systems. CiviCRM must be installed separately from Drupal/Joomla. Drupal currently has strongest set of tools and CiviCRM is developing a rapidly expanding relationship with Wordpress as well.
Recommendation: "Activity" tool creates record of all interactions, part of the summary story for each constituent. Craft customized fields that are relevant to the organization’s needs in order to capitalize on tools’ strengths to conglomerate varied data and interactions with individual constituents and groups of constituents. This process can become the heart of understanding the relationships you already have with your constituents and of being able to build and strengthen new relationships.
Data migration can be challenging when moving from currently used software in order to establish database using CiviCRM, but there is a point and click functionality using the import tool. You can also create SmartGroups by identifying series of tags for search criteria. Specific criteria will be auto-imported in data migration. A word of caution rounded out the evening: de-dupe functions may lack sophistication, depending on data accuracy and over-generalizing duplication criteria. Dave also reiterated Civi’s multiple components are built in with “out of the box functionality” that you can turn on or off according to your needs (e.g. insert customized Google maps or openstreet maps). Look at case studies link on their website for ideas and common uses!
All in all, the meet-up was a fantastic and informative evening for CiviDay 2014 in San Francisco! In closing, the discussion finished with Dave’s recommendation to explore a variety of resources to learn more about CiviCRM:
Book resources: book.civicrm.org
By Pact Publisher:
Using CiviCRM (P.S. Wait for new edition to be released soon...)
Paid services and video libraries available:
CiviCon San Francisco 2014
April 24-25, 2014
Also: user admin 2-day training precedes 2-day conference
P.S. EFF is right on target with its message in the elevator...