I've had the opportunity to present the ‘state of CiviCRM’ now at both the recent DC User Summit and at CiviCon London. While we often talk about and evaluate the features and technical capabilities of CiviCRM, we do at times lose sight of its central purpose... the 'why' behind what we do. Going forward, we hope to keep this front and center in our communications. Why? (I knew you’d ask that)...
It’s been nearly 15 years since I’ve been back to Europe and to the UK, and never before for a CiviCon (in London), so I didn’t quite know what to expect. Up until about 11:00am on Wednesday, I’d felt quite prepared. But then Tim Otten told me that I was giving the welcome speech and was introducing the keynote speaker. I thought he was joking. After that small oversight on my part, I spent much of the rest of the day preparing to open the conference in front of an international audience. Nothing like pressure.
In case you haven’t noticed, we don’t spend a ton of time on marketing and sales. Not only is our budget for marketing small (and by 'small', I mean 'tiny'), just take a quick look at the makeup of the Core Team and at our roadmap and you should get a good sense of what our focus is (and is not). Like most things CiviCRM, we rely on our community to help spread the word about the project and the benefits of using the software.
We started and ended CiviCon Denver this year by talking about community participation. In her keynote presentation, Stormy Peters of the Mozilla Foundation introduced it and discussed the value of participation in open source communities as well as how it represented a competitive advantage to proprietary software alternatives.
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.
Version 4.6, the latest release of CiviCRM, has been out for just over a month now and for the first time we tied in a fairly concerted effort to encourage contributions during download. With the goal of reaching $5,000 in support, this campaign represented another initiative aimed at bringing CiviCRM as a project to a sustainable point. Given that this had not been attempted before, it was a bit of a test to see how the CiviCRM community would respond. So, how’d we do?
In May of 2013, Michael McAndrew initiated a blog post about the Core Team’s efforts to make CiviCRM sustainable. Two years later, we’re still on that path and sustainability remains our goal. During this time, and somewhat unnoticed until recently, the number of active sites using CiviCRM has steadily risen.
We’re almost 3 weeks into the release of version 4.6 and, based on today’s stats, it’s been downloaded from http://civicrm.org 1,839 times. We’d break 2,000 downloads easily if we added in those from SourceForge, however for the sake of this post, I’m interested only in those from the CiviCRM website because that’s where we’ve promoted a campaign to donate before downloading the latest version.
It’s been on my task list to post an update about the fundraising at CiviCRM, so I thought now would be a good time - with the release of 4.6 and a more concerted effort to encourage financial support - to review CiviCRM’s path to sustainability. The bottom line is that there's a significant and unsustainable gap between our revenue stream and our very modest operating expenses.