We've been recently working on CiviCRM upgrade for a Front Line - an organisation, which have been using CiviCRM for quite a few years now. Through their sponsorship, we put first version of case management into CiviCRM, which - with time and support from other organisations - led to developing CiviCase component. They also inspired creation of CiviGrant. You can say it's an Open Source success story - they invested some resources into bringing the subject (case work) to CiviCRM, the idea caught up and now they are migrating to much more advanced and flexible solution, which was created within the open source product framework. This blog post is not about calculating ROI, so I'll skip going further into this, but I bet it would be an interesting thing to dig a but further on. This blog post is about using CiviCRM in human rights organisation.
To give you an idea about what Front Line does, here's an excerpt from their website: "Front Line was founded in Dublin in 2001 with the specific aim of protecting human rights defenders at risk, people who work, non-violently, for any or all of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Front Line aims to address the protection needs identified by defenders themselves." This mission definitely brings tons of different things that are done in their offices every day, and at least some of them are supported by CiviCRM - as described below.
Main usage of CiviCRM in Front Line is tracking their work with human rights defenders. Each case, after it's initiated, is made of many different activities and needs to be tracked over long time. These activities include communication with subjects, storing information about their situation that arrive from different source, but also different actions taken by Front Line: phoned appeals to the relevant authorities, raising the case through the EU or individual government representatives, practical help with temporary relocation, assistance with medical or legal expenses. Taking into consideration that there is really a lot of cases to manage, tracking detailed information about who does what and when becomes crucial. That's where CiviCase comes in handy.
Front Line has also Small Grants Programme. Grants are given to organisations working for human rights as well as to individual human rights defenders at risk, for the specific purpose of strengthening the protection of human rights defenders at risk. Again, they are tracked using CiviGrant component.
Last, but not least among activities supported with CiviCRM, is "The Dublin Platform" event, that's hosted by Front Line. Last one, happening in February 2010, gathered more than 100 human rights defenders from 80 countries, so you probably guess what kind of logistical work needs to be done to organise it.
Final remark, in case you wondered - CiviCRM at Front Line is set up as secure back-end database, separated from outside-facing systems to ensure protection of sensitive data. Recently introduced logging feature allows tracking access to the system and checking what changes has been made by whom - which is also important from data security point of view.
Over last few releases, CiviCRM grew with quite a lot of different functions that can be particularly useful for human rights work, which is often case based. We would be more than happy to see more HR oriented organisations adapting it. If you work with an such organisation, let us know what's important from your requirements perspective and what would help you in starting to use it.