When EFF began looking for a new CRM, we were incredibly impressed by the CiviCRM community. CiviCRM users were excited to speak with us about their experiences and developers responded quickly to our questions on the forums. In comparison to other products on the market, we viewed this willingness to help other users as a huge asset and important part of our final decision to adopt CiviCRM. More than eight months after migrating our database, the CiviCRM community still proves to be a tremendous resource for good ideas.
To welcome prospective CiviCRM users, we would like to formalize—into an Amabassador Program—what many of you are already doing informally. The program would result in a listing on CiviCRM.org of existing users, who would be happy to answer questions about why they choose and how they use CiviCRM. And room on the forums for recording some of these conversations. The following is a short outline of our thoughts so far, but we would love to hear any ideas you might have as well.
First, we need to determine how many people want to participate. We don't want to overwhelm participants with too many inquiries, so the more Ambassadors, the more realistic the workload.
Second, we need to write questions for Ambassador profiles on CiviCRM. In addition to basic contact information, questions might include: What do you use CiviCRM for? What other CRM systems have you used before? And how many resources does your organization dedicate to CiviCRM? Is your organization primarily an advocacy, performing arts, professional association, etc. organization?
Third, we need to create a space in the forums for conversations about whether to adopt CiviCRM and how it has helped existing users.
And fourth, we need Ambassadors to fill their profiles and start answering questions.
The Ambassador Program should complement the existing resources anyone can find online about CiviCRM by adding a personal element. It assumes that some prospective users will want to talk with someone, even if that person just points them in the right direction. Proprietary products employ sales reps to serve this function. But we think Ambassadors who are end-users will be more valuable because they share concerns with other end-users and have no financial investment in the organization's final decision.
From conversations I have had in the past, prospective users want to talk through whether CiviCRM will fit their needs and what kind of resources they should dedicate to managing their database. Depending on how much knowledge sharing they want, we can also help them avoid potential pitfalls and point out cool features that will enable them do their jobs better.
What's in it for you? Ambassadors will have the opportunity to solidify their expertise by teaching someone else about CiviCRM. At EFF, we are always looking for better ways to manage our data, and more often than not, we find a more efficient solution by speaking with other organizations. I'm looking forward to conversations with prospective CiviCRM users that help us evaluate regularly what we are doing and why.
If you would be interested in volunteering to be an Ambassador, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, I look forward to reading your feedback below about how we can help onboard new members of the CiviCRM community.