Quarterly Report - Q1 2020

2020-05-05 05:16
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In late January, the CiviCRM Core Team published its 2019 annual report which laid out its objectives for 2020. While we’ve managed the occasional update somewhat randomly in the past, we’d like to stick to a cadence of quarterly updates going forward in order to communicate progress on our priorities. This update provides an overview of the first quarter of 2020 as well as reflects on what we see happening for the remainder of the year.

Let’s start with priorities that we cited where we’ve made some headway.

Expand the Core Team (complete)

With the addition of Seamus and Eileen, we can tick this checkbox as complete. For the first time in several years, the Core Team is essentially fully staffed though our individual capacities continue to fluctuate based on budget and priorities. All in all, we’re operating at around 4.25 full time equivalents.

Search Builder (in progress)

Thanks to strong interest from Wikimedia Foundation, we’re well into phase 1 of an overhaul of CiviCRM’s search and reporting functionality. The effort brings together APIv4 and, eventually, Form Builder to create a powerful search and reporting interface that will replace the underlying search engine as well as the various interfaces that currently exist. Like Form Builder, this is an exciting project that stands to advance key functionality within CiviCRM. We’re working on a demo presentation for the community (details soon) as well as planning for the next phase of work.

Security Audit (in progress)

Thanks to the Mozilla Open Source Support Program (MOSS), the CiviCRM Security Team has the results of an in-depth audit and has already begun addressing various issues. There’s not much we can say at this point other than we’re pleased with the results but that we still have some work to do. Stay tuned for future security releases.

D8 (in progress)

When in the world will this ever be complete? We get it. We’re asking that too. Unfortunately, not only has this been complex, it’s been competing with other priorities such as Form Builder, Search Builder and the security audit. That’s not an excuse, that’s just the downside of a small Core Team. An update on Drupal 8 integration is overdue, so expect something more on this specific topic soon (from Tim).

Since we’re talking D8 (and because there are already over 400 sites in production) it makes sense to improve documentation around upgrading to it. There's an open issue here to help drive this initiative. Participation is most welcome

Community Summit & Events (in progress)

The CiviCRM Community Summit, originally set for October 9 - 16, is shifting to a virtual format. Details are forthcoming, however given the current environment, it seems unreasonable to host an in-person event. Please stay tuned for more information as well virtualize the annual Community Summit.

B-Corp Certification (in progress)

Assessment for B-Corp certification is underway and, with luck, we’ll wrap it up pretty soon and join the ranks of some amazing companies (directory listing can be found here in case you’re interested). This has been on our operational roadmap for some time and though it doesn’t change the legal structure of CiviCRM, it is intended to impart a high level of transparency and trust.

Website migration (in progress)

Ok, this is a big effort as well. Thanks to Mathieu, CiviCRM is making significant progress on its transition to Drupal 8. There are a lot of moving parts with this transition both technically as well as overall site design and messaging. While the obsolescence of Drupal 7 is a significant driver of the transition, we’re also taking this opportunity to rework much of the site’s content and position it to be truly multilingual.

We’re picking up the pace on revisions to the content and tracking (most) everything via the website upgrade milestone on gitlab. Our objective is to simplify the navigation of civicrm.org, to consolidate content where appropriate, and to adjust it to speak most directly to new, prospective users. We’re actively developing content and site structure here (this site is not a design, it’s just for content revisions) and, as content is complete, pushing it to their respective pages on civicrm.org. That said, you may notice changes to content and menu structure on https://civicrm.org over the coming days and weeks. As content is finalized, we’ll also begin translating the site into various languages.

This is, and has been, an ongoing effort and will continue to need community participation. Big thanks to everyone that’s already helped! If you are interested in pitching in, please jump on chat or into any one of the issues listed on gitlab.

Room For Improvement

Lots of good progress, however we have a long way to go. Likewise, there are several initiatives that we’re beginning to undertake now or will shortly.

CiviCRM Spark

Originally implemented to help grow the CiviCRM ecosystem, Spark has sat quietly building a small user base as well as some useful statistics. Our initial objective was to leverage Spark as an entry point for organizations that wanted to start with minimal commitment and eventually graduate to the full download version. We’ll provide hard stats on this in the future, however suffice it to say that it is working

We’re very encouraged about the potential and are developing plans to scale Spark. Our objective for Q2 and Q3 is to drive increased interest and conversions to Spark. We’re currently testing some limited promotional tactics, such as Google Ads, that are showing promise and are soon to implement changes to civicrm.org to better present Spark. Big thanks to Mathieu for continuing to improve the underlying infrastructure that power Spark.

Form Builder

Work on Form Builder is off to a slow start in 2020, though we’re hoping to pick it back up as we complete other work on our plate, notably Drupal 8 integration and Search Builder. Form Builder still represents our primary development priority for CiviCRM and it's likely that we'll see major effort in the second half of the year on this initiative.

Contributor Program Revisions

We’re continuing to move at glacial speeds when it comes to improving contributor engagement. We did decide to suspend the contributor hours tracking as it was not meeting our objective of properly recognizing contributors.Likewise, the transition to Drupal 8 has caused some disruption in how we display supporters on civicrm.org, however we’re hoping to resolve this very soon.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Jon Goldberg of Megaphone Technology Consulting for frequently passing along his insights in the community and helping the Core Team stay abreast of new contributors in the project. Monitoring who is doing what throughout the community is very difficult (and a little creepy), so we are very thankful when individuals like Jon notice and share opportunities for increased engagement. You rock, Jon!


CiviCRM LLC’s financials for Q1 2020 are consistent with previous years, with a few exceptions: 1) we increased our labor costs with the expansion of the Core Team and 2) we did start feeling the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in March. We have seen a handful of partners opt not to renew whereas a small handful have opted to defer payment, bringing the program income down year over year. Likewise, our own earned income is down about 47% year over year, though this is largely a function of income being realized outside of Q1. Still, these are precarious financial times for everyone.

There are some positive trends, however. Support from our Platform Sponsors such as TSYS, Stripe and PayPal is up 33% year over year. And, though the absolute revenues are small, Spark has seen 155% growth year over year. Other revenue streams, specifically Make It Happen campaigns, Extended Security and our Membership program are flat year over year.

We’ve also done a fair amount of research on the various programs offered in the United States aimed at keeping small businesses afloat. Unfortunately, open source projects are not a great fit for a variety of reasons, so funding through these programs is unlikely. 

Finally, you might have noticed that we’ve pulled the financial dashboard down from https://stats.civicrm.org. Maintaining this was administratively cumbersome and inconsistent with our focus on only the essential tasks. Likewise, it didn't generate much interest. Going forward, we’ll provide financial reports like this quarterly and will provide P&L statements annually.

Other Initiatives

We’ve highlighted only a few things above, most of which are all on the Core Team’s 2019 annual report. There are lots of other initiatives taking place worth an update. Here's a quick recap.

Community Council

Elections have been held and community members have been added to the council. Like everything else, there’s a lot going on and progress here may be slower than anticipated. Stay tuned for updates.

Docs Improvement

Mikey O’Toole has been coordinating some design and code improvements to CiviCRM’s documentation, some of which are already live as of this summary. Expect to see more changes soon that improve the presentation of documentation. Thanks Mikey!

Trademark, Privacy & Code of Conduct Revisions

We’ve gotten a lot of good input regarding revisions to CiviCRM’s trademarks, privacy policy and code of conduct, all of which are actively under revision.  None of the forthcoming revisions are huge and are mostly intended to reflect what is already currently in practice within the CiviCRM community.

Provider survey

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we put together a very brief survey to CiviCRM providers to try to understand what they’re witnessing in the market with respect to nonprofits and CiviCRM. While there isn’t much action to be taken as a result, we felt that it would be interesting to share insights amongst providers and, in general, attempt to keep connected with the provider community during this period. The results of the survey can be found here.


It goes without saying that 2020 has already been a challenging year for almost everyone and every organization, CiviCRM included. Likewise, we probably don’t fully understand or appreciate what the rest of the year will bring. That’s not to say that we’re approaching it with trepidation, rather we’re taking a realistic view that things are truly in flux like never before. For the Core Team’s part, we remain confident in the CiviCRM community and in the promise of open source to meet whatever challenges we face.