Published
Saturday, January 31, 2015 - 12:19
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This year's San Francisco Bay Area CiviDay meetup "felt like a family reunion," according to one attendee, and no wonder it seemed homey: its venue was the large but comfortable common space of a cohousing community in Oakland. Over 30 people (reportedly over 40 at the peak) filled the dining room chairs, including CiviCRM core team members, nonprofit workers considering CiviCRM for their organizations, current users, consultants and developers looking to integrate CiviCRM with their own products.

CiviCRM cofounder Dave Greenberg gave us the origin story and described how a remarkably compact team (compared with some other CRM platforms) got us to where we are today after getting "bit by the open source bug" 10 years ago. Recently, a dedicated core group have been working hard to get CiviCRM on a solid, sustainable footing as the project outgrows its original funding model. Dave outlined the new sustainability initiatives, and expressed gratitude to the partners who have stepped up so far to support CiviCRM. He made sure we all were aware of the upcoming CiviCon Denver. At least a few attendees were tempted by the mention of a code sprint to be held in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Jim Meehan took over the projector next with an impressive tour of the CiviCRM-based system he has built for the Bay Area Children's Theater. BACT, with a budget of $2 million, produces professional shows with adult casts for young audiences, and also contracts with local municipalities to run arts education programs. Jim's integration of CiviCRM with Fusion Ticket and the Drupal Views module makes for a pretty slick ticket-selling workflow, including graphical seat selection. (BACT called on Giant Rabbit to take the system from proof-of-concept to production.) He showed a couple of the reports that the staff use, including "out-of-the-box" CiviCRM pages and custom Views. If you're interested, you can read a longer blog post about BACT's use of CiviCRM.

BACT uses CiviCRM not only for ticketing but also for class registration, donor relations and mailing lists. With the volume of financial transactions they handle monthly, Jim says BACT saves significantly on fees by having a real merchant account connected to Authorize.net.

The last speaker of the evening was Josh Mailman, who explained that a cancer diagnosis several years ago led to his involvement in a number of nonprofit organizations – and the CiviCRM community. In his wide-ranging presentation, Josh discussed the challenges of facilitating donations when Indian banks are involved (he thanks iATS for helping him there), the advantages of keeping mailings simple and using CiviMail rather than involving a third party like MailChimp, the success he has had boosting organizations' fundraising using CiviCRM, and more. He summed up his do-it-yourself track record by saying he had "spent a total of $150 on consultants to successfully implement CiviCRM for four different organizations" so far. (He did allow that he expected to spend more on consultants going forward.)

Several people stuck around for a few minutes longer to chat in small groups. There seemed to be some Civi converts in the mix.

Many thanks to Cividesk  Regional Account Manager and Swan's Market Cohousing founding resident Neil Planchon for his gracious hosting, to the core team for their continued work, and to all who showed up to discuss CiviCRM!