Our vision and principles

Late last year the topic of a vision for CiviCRM came up on the partner email list. What is it that brings us all together? And where are we headed over the next few years? It was good to chat this through with people and there was a general consensus that:

  1. having something written down would be really useful in many situations: it would help explain our project to new people (be they users, service providers, or funders) and inspire them to join us; it would be something you could read on those days when you feel like chucking it all in, to remind yourself, 'oh yeah, that's why I'm doing this'; and it would be a tool to bring clarity to our releases and help us set priorities.
  2. since CiviCRM means many different things to many different people, we'll need input from the entire community to create the vision. And it will be a challenge to collate all these views into something clear, representative, and meaningful.

We also agreed that writing by committee is never fun or effective, so instead, thought we should create an initial first draft that can be used as the basis for a discussion. Something that everyone can critique, challenge and rewrite. The idea is that everyone has their say, and a brave (and foolhardy) group of volunteers take all that input and hone it into something clear, meaningful and inspiring.

You can see the early draft here: http://wiki.civicrm.org/confluence/display/CRM/Vision+and+principles (renamed) http://wiki.civicrm.org/confluence/display/CRM/Vision+and+community+guidelines. It based on discussions so far, and on similar documents from similar projects.

The draft is split into two parts:

  • a vision: what we believe in and where we are headed - we're trying to keep this short

  • our principles: how we work together to support our vision - a longer explanation of how we work together

So, does this resonate with you and your role in the community? What have we missed out? What should we cut out? Whether you have been involved for years, or are just getting started, we want to hear from you. All you word smiths out there – how can we make this message more succinct, meaningful and inspiring? End users - we are especially interested in your input.

A wise old owl once said “A vision without a task is a dream. A task without a vision is drudgery. A vision and a task is the hope of the world.” Please log into the wiki, and help create our vision.


I know this is the product of many, many conversations over the years since CiviCRM has launched -- thanks for pulling them together in this draft.

For us at EFF, the second sentence sums up perfectly why CiviCRM is so important.  "Organizations should own their data." With the overwhelming majority of CRM's being managed by third-party service providers, CiviCRM is one of the last, best options that allows us to do so.

I'm interested in digging alittle deeperinto this oidea of owning your data. I can see that for organisations like EFF and CiviCRM, where the people involved have a relatively in-depth understanding of open source and the issues and ideas around it, this concept of owning your data may well resonate.

But for average end-user organisations which probably have a much more limited understanding of many of the issues, what are the key benefits for them? Is it simply about risk, or is it something more?

Nice one :-) It will be extremely hard for me to ignore knowledge/awareness that I have so I do not think I can truly answer the question. I do think in general that it would certainly be a good thing if more organizations develop an awareness of what this could mean to them and make sure they keep the reins of their ICT support? At least I as a client/donor would always expect the organization to own their data from a logical point of view, and I would never accept something like: "we know your details that you gave us are now all over the Internet but we did not know and our Cloud partner told us everything was wonderful!"

Also, if you do not own your data in some cases it also means you might limit the ways in which you can share the data? Your service provider might come up with limitations on the access webservices have or the ways in which systems could integrate? Bottom line: you need to be in control :-)

Great effort to get this together! I have taken part in most of the discussions with partners and we certainly produced a lot of text :-)

My only remark/question: in the vision 'We believe that all organizations' my question mark is if we want to limit the vision to non-profit organizations or use a term like social enterprise? For me/us it does make a difference. We prefer to work with those and will give them priority when that is required. Having said this, I totally agree CiviCRM should be available to all types of organizations. I just wonder if in our vision we tend to be more focused on non-profit/social enterprise?

Other than that, I can fully subscribe to this vision and principles!


Yeah, I was thinking about that data ownership stuff recently. The reason being that there are actually a lot of websites out there that still store passwords in clear text and whose internal data access policies are unknown. I have been wondering how comfortable I feel about my own personal data being stored in some systems.

Another biggie is - what happens if they go under. I am a big fan & advocate of Xero accounting SaaS software but if they went under & I couldn't access my data I wouldn't lose more than a bit of data entry. It would take a few days - but I could get it back based on bank feeds & paper records. I wonder if one day a big cloud-SaaS will die without returning people's data & what that will do to how we interact with software after that.

Michael - thanks for pulling this together! For me this sentence is key to the power of what we are doing together: "By combining our skills, experiences, innovations, and best practices we can collaboratively create a better tool for use by tens of thousands of organizations around the world."

Each month I see more examples of how powerful this idea of shared innovation is for the non-profit / NGO / social enterprise sector. This includes sponsored enhancements in core as well as robust extensions that so many organizations will benefit from. Just a few recent examples include "partial payments for events" (thanks to Great Lakes Planetarium Association),  "CiviCase configuration UI" (thanks to National Democratic Institute), and "workflow streamlining via Ajax" and "full text search improvements" (thanks to New York State Senate).

Hey there, thanks for the comments both here and on the wiki page.  We are now going to spend a bit of time pulling together the feedback and sticking into a final document.  We'll likely have a skype call and then someone will go away and incorperate suggested changes. Let me know if you want to help out with this by the 20th August.  We'll then do the work and get a final draft published in appropriate places.