Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - 14:42
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Constituent Relationship Management for Civic Sector (CiviCRM) - Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced The Grassroots Use of Technology Conference was held in Boston, Massachusets on the Northeastern University campus on October 16-17, 2009. The 10th Annual GUTC had nearly 200 registrants participating in 22 workshops. Organizers of the conference said that the objectives outlined by sponsors, participants, keynote speakers, and organizers were met. Speakers such as Roberto Lovato of the Basta Dobbs! campaign[0] and Richard O'Bryant gave participants a sense of urgency in their online campaigns. Workshops and plenary sessions alike presented topics relating to action and mobilization for grassroots and base-building organizations. Hosted by the Organizers' Collaborative, the Grassroots Use of Technology conference[1] brings together a broad coalition of individual organizers and non-profit, academic and community activist organizations to ensure that they have the tools and knowledge to achieve their community and social change missions. CiviCRM was developed by an open source community focused on meeting the needs of the civic sector. Not only is its history rooted in grassroots movements but CiviCRM as its own organization and community continues to grow itself in the context of mobilization of resources and political movement both in online and offline collaborative ways. CiviCRM's participation in the GUTC grew its reach and organizing capabilities in the Northeast region of the US and also offered to its participants a training in the use of a free and open source constituent relationship management tool. In terms of grassroots organizing, this was a perfect collaboration. The workshop description read:
Web-based, Free and Open Source Software alternative for Social Justice organizations with a huge development community and campaign-focused design. This training will introduce grassroots activists to this growing web-based platform for managing their relationships with donors, members, volunteers, and their community at large while preserving fundamental organizing strategies.
The first training focused on an introduction to CRMs, technology as organizing strategy, and CiviCRM. Highlighting elements of CiviCRM in the context both of use as an organizing tool and organizing to grow the use of FOSS solutions in the progressive movement. The more advanced training in the late morning introduced CiviCRM in the context of grassroots organizing and dedication to FOSS and open development, as well as highlighting CiviCRM as its own organization, but focused mainly on a hands-on exercise using the training manuals located on the CiviCRM documents site[2] while using a sandbox, or "demo", installation. About the presenter: Mallory Knodel is an activist in New York City. As a member of the May First/People Link[3] leadership committee, she builds websites, open source software, and supports MF/PL members in the struggle for social change. She actively organizes with the 4th Street Food Co-op and World and US Social Forums. [0] [1] [2] [3]
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Sounds like a great event! Being able to share both real-world organizing experience and knowledge about CiviCRM as a platform is a powerful combination. Having folks in the community step-up and organize CiviCRM sessions at conferences and meetups really helps strengthen the CiviCRM ecosystem. Thank you!

If there's an upcoming conference or gathering in YOUR area where you think folks could benefit from learning about CiviCRM - do consider jumping in a getting a Civi-session on the agenda. There's a growing set of training resources on the wiki - and I'd be happy to help anyone with session design.