We recently updated our appeal for financial support on our download page and included a financial metric with two specific elements that I want to expand upon. In essence, we’ve published both the absolute dollar amount needed to balance the remainder of our 2015 budget (~ $300k) and we’ve qualified it by stating that this is the amount necessary for sustainability.
There will almost certainly be mixed reactions about publishing both CiviCRM’s budget (~ $600k per year) as well as the gap remaining in 2015. Having said that, we believe it’s important to frame these numbers in terms of impact and in relation to comparable systems. The mission of CiviCRM has always been to provide civic-sector and nonprofit organizations access to a CRM that improves their overall performance and enables them to positively impact the world. Whereas other CRM’s ultimately measure their success by their stock price, the success of CiviCRM as a project is measured by its impact.
To date, 10,467 organizations use CiviCRM and have collectively manage 245,828,214 contacts and have processed 257,758,286 contributions through the software.
Though a budget of $600k a year may seem like a lot, it’s truly a fraction of the cost of similar, proprietary CRMs. In many cases, in fact, it’s substantially less than the marketing budgets alone of competing systems. But that $600k buys you more than any sales team could sell. With CiviCRM, you get an open source solution, meaning that both community participation and financial support directly shape the project. You, as a user, can apply your time, energy and resources to take CiviCRM where you want it to go. Whether you contribute code, build a new extension, fund a make it happen campaign, or provide unrestricted support as a member organization, you drive the success and the impact of CiviCRM, all at a fraction of the cost of comparable systems.
When you contribute to the sustainability of the Core Team, you ensure the sustained impact of every organization that uses CiviCRM. Like we say, “you don’t just give to CiviCRM, you give through CiviCRM.”
The simple answer is that though CiviCRM is not a nonprofit, it does operate like a not for profit, meaning that all of the funds raised to support the project are applied to the actual maintenance and development of the software. Yes, the Core Team is compensated. But there are no stock options. There is no corporate jet. And there is no CiviCRM Tower. Whereas competitors of CiviCRM have tens of thousands of employees, the Core Team is comprised of 7 full time equivalents.
Like any nonprofit, we choose to balance a financial and a social bottom line. And, like any good nonprofit, we don’t measure social bottom line via profitability… we measure it via impact. Organizations around the world, ranging in size and mission, have used CiviCRM to effect change and to make the world a better place. Any and all profits (and we stress the ‘any’ part) that CiviCRM, LLC generates in the process are put back into the project, translating entirely into additional capacity to improve the software. The performance bonuses that the Core Team receives come in the form of success stories, not in paychecks.
The value and success of CiviCRM grows in conjunction with the real-world impact it enables, not as its income increases.
So, when we say ‘sustainability’, we mean it in dollar terms as well as in the overall impact the software enables. And, when we ask for financial support, we’re asking you to be a part of sustaining that impact, not in making CiviCRM itself profitable.
We invite you to participate in this incredible project and to support our efforts to make it sustainable by making a one time gift (or recurring, your choice!), by becoming a member and by participating in the CiviCRM community.