Friday, December 5, 2008 - 09:20
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It's that time of year again!

No, not what you think. :-) It's the time of year when new a CiviCRM version is behind the door, and it has cool new features. Code freeze is going to be introduced any day now - and we'll move on to quality assurance, alphas, betas and other equally exciting stuff.

Let me briefly introduce you to two new 2.2 features: one of them already mentioned here and there - Personal Contribution Pages (PCP), and a "last minute" addition - Soft Credits.

To present one of the aspects of usefulness of PCP, let me tell you about my approach to personal involvement with social campaigns... There are some that I personally would like to get involved with a bit more than just donating money. I would like these campaigns to grow, get the largest outreach possible and I'm even willing to put some personal time into it. However, I usually do not have enough of it to volunteer. CiviCRM's new Personal Contribution Pages (PCP) feature can be helpful in attracting people like me to your campaigns. Once you set up your contribution page and enable PCP for it, people will be able to start their own personal campaigns in support of your effort. They will be able to set up a page with their own text and photos, set their personal fundraising goal amount, and off they go - the can start campaigning in your name. They can send off a limited quantity of emails to their personal networks (through Tell-a-Friend functionality). All the contributions that they attract will be made through your contribution page of course, but they will be able to take the credit thanks to the personal campaign thermometer and honour roll on their "website". And of course they'll have a lot of satisfaction from participating in your campaign effort.

Speaking of taking the credit (or, looking from other side, having information in the database, that a given contribution has been "attracted" by a Personal Contribution Page owner, which of course is how it works)... we've introduced Soft Credit tracking for 2.2. From now on, for every donation, you can register the name of a person who inspired the actual donation maker to do it. Thanks to idmacdonald for inspiring this feature on forums conversation.

And at the very end of this post, to break the non-technical tone of it, here is a question to power users and integrators. Are you people using the solicitor_id column in civicrm_contribution table? Because if not, we're going to remove it. :-)

P.S. (I'm sure those who feel that last question is important for them will understand and step up. If you don't know what's this gibbering is about, rest assured that you don't have to worry about it. :-) )

P.S. Does anyone feel that splitting our blog into two separate blog entities: one technical and one more user- and product-oriented might be a good idea? We have been getting this suggestion from time to time, but perhaps it's time to ask our readers for opinions... Please let us know in comments or on the General Discussion board on forums.


I vote for having a single blog. I've found it increasingly difficult to keep up with the world of Civi and to find information, as the info is spread over so many different places: mailing list, forums, blog(s), wiki + comments thereon, JIRA issues + comments thereon, IRC, uservoice... Colleagues and I are frequently in the position of knowing we've seen a useful comment by a member of the team but struggling to find it among these many sources. Civi is great and the Civi team are exceptional. But keeping up with Civi developments is hard work and takes a considerable investment of time and effort. Take your eye off the ball while you're occupied with non-Civi projects for a while, and you could find that a feature you relied on has been removed. Its removal will undoubtedly have been discussed somewhere, but unless you have your fingers on these multiple pulses constantly, you may miss it.

So this is a plea for having fewer communication channels not more, and a designated single source where all important developments will be made known.

Thanks for your remarks, they are very valuable. To be sincere, during our last team meeting we had a discussion about multiple communication channels that we provide, pros and cons, and agreed we will be working on improving the situation here - meaning, making the information easier to reach.

The idea behind having two blogs (or two well distinguishable blog post categories) is basically to provide safe space for both developers and end users, and to involve the latter group more, but you are right, it increses the number of communication channels further. We will be thinking about it more, will probably also post on it separately on the (still single) blog. :-)

Thanks again for your input, keep it coming!

I would support keeping it simple, i.e. not splitting, but perhaps some rethinking around categories would help deliver an easy route for people to select the 'Technical Talk' or the 'Managers Meanderings' or the 'Sales Speak' etc, if you get my drift.

Also I would encourage keeping posts on topic - e.g. not seeking input on whether to split the blog at the end of a long posting on another topic ;-)

pete davis : [i]fuzion[/i] : advocacy + strategy + communication


Got the point on categorisation - makes sense to me.

And for the "keeping posts on topic" - heh, touche. :-) This is just a small reconnaissance on the topic that will get a whole blog post on its own, and it's early birds input gathering for *careful* readers. ;-)

I just wanted to add that the other potential (cool) use of soft credits is to better manage households. Dave and I talked about this a little at the last CiviCamp but basically it is hard to track a household and the total money coming from, let's say, a husband and wife. Especially, if they are split as individual records and have different levels of engagement with the organization. Soft credits will allow you to track that the wife gave the money, but maybe also give soft credit to the husband so that you know to not appeal the husband because the wife (household member) gave money. You know what I mean? I need to think through some more specific use cases but I think overall this is a great feature!

p.s. regarding the blog, I'm fine with just keeping it to one. Event though I'm not a developer at DharmaTech, when there are technical blog posts, i just ignore them :)

I also think that would be a good use of soft credits. However, we are in the process of migrating all of our household records over to individual records for simplicity and accuracy. (hint, a plea for a convert to individual record utility and vv).

Its too hard to manage duplicates across entity types, and the system tends to default to creating individual when it establishes a record based on events or actions (e.g. donations). We wanted to use HH as a roll-up mechanism for individuals for the sort of things that you describe- and for correspondence (e.g mailing lists), but since we rely so much on email (and don't really mail anything anymore), it is not as critical that we do that.

I love the PCPs and CiviCRM.


One question I hope is easy to answer: is there a way to show in the User Menu, once a user has logged in - a link to their PCP campaign pages?


We'd like to give them a link back so they could use the tell-a-friend, as well as check on the campaign's performance.


Thanks in advance,