2011: A CiviCRM Odyssey - Setting up CiviCRM for your organization with virtually no budget or experience.

2011-04-20 21:02
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My name is Tim and I am a board member for the Open Roads Bike Program (http://www.openroadsbike.org/), a Kalamazoo, Michigan youth development program, founded in 2009, that teaches social skills and bike mechanic skills to youth in our community. This program began as a one-time program created by my friend Ethan Alexander, funded by a grant from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. For this our third year, the board has put together a plan to turn this great idea into a permanent, self-sustaining organization - with help from CiviCRM.


Many of you are familiar with the process: creating brochures and letters, developing partnerships, organizing fund-raising campaigns, writing grants, developing our elevator speeches, organizing volunteers, planning events. With a small but dedicated group and many tasks, organization is essential. Efficiency is important. Some of our board members were familiar with web-based CRM systems and suggested that we look into them. As the designated "computer guy", I was asked/volunteered to investigate the options. CiviCRM quickly came to the top of the list and I am the "chosen one" to get it working. As the saying goes, "In the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed man is king."


I am writing this blog to help others who may come after me and also to get some help from the community. This blog will document the process of getting a CiviCRM installation running from the perspective of someone with some computer skills, but no direct experience with most of the underlying tools. Although I am a systems analyst/programmer in my "day job", I loathe the arcane, tedious aspects of computers. My intention is to make visible those little things that can hang people up, to provide the Whys and Hows that sometimes go unstated by the people already familiar with a tool.


So lets see about going from almost zero to CiviCRM as quickly as possible. Our starting point: We've got hosting set up with a static website.


Next step, setting up a prototype installation on my Mac to learn and test.




I had a similar odyssey in 2010.  I agree that there's value in more documentation geared to folks who are not experienced server admins.  I got tripped up several times because I lacked information so basic that it went without saying.  PM me on the forums if you need help.

Anonymous (not verified)
2011-04-21 - 19:45

Greetings twojtyniak: Small world indeed... two people working with CiviCRM in Kalamazoo! ;-)

Please contact me via a PM in the forums if you would. I'd like to learn more about what you are working on and see how we can support each other.



Hi Tim,


I appreciate your project here. I'm pretty new to CiviCRM, have had to do a crash course in the last few weeks, on a working site after the main administrator of the site left and I was promoted to manage the site after being at my organization for a few months. I'm now familiar with the front end of CiviCRM, but still far from confident.


I'm now looking at integrating CiviCRM from the ground up on another project that I'm involved in (www.aplaceforsustainableliving.org) here in Oakland, California. It seems that there's a similar scope in our projects, so I'll be very much interested in following your experience.


I'm probably going to setup a staging environment with the drupal 7 install that we're using and install and start testing the newest version. May the wind be at your back...