Amnistía Internacional – Sección Española logo

Breaking our Database Silos

Amnistía Internacional – Sección Española

Secretariado Estatal Fernando VI, 8, 1º izda.
28004 Madrid
Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 3 million supporters, members and activists in over 150 countries and territories who campaign to end grave abuses of human rights. Amnesty International Spain has, about 65,000 members and 1,800 activists. In 2012, its digital platform collected more than 1,700,000 signatures.
The IT Department, at Amnesty International Spain, was created only a few years ago. Before it was created, every department used to solve its database needs by creating its own applications. As it usually happens, the number of applications kept growing as independent silos of databases. We had different databases for managing our members, volunteers, press contacts, newsletter subscribers, on line shop clients, etc.
  • Contact Management icon
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On Drupal

Drupal logo


In the next two years, we will start taking advantage of the integration capabilities that CiviCRM offers with Drupal. We loved the fact that, with CiviCRM, your webforms send data directly to your database, that you have full control over the way the form behaves and that you can very easily create and customize new webforms.
In addition, we wanted to implement a private area for members and collaborators. With CiviCRM, you can do it... but we love the fact that you don't need to! The possibility of sending your contacts a customized link that will open any webform prefilled, allows us to fit the needs of a private area in a more secure way.


The first challenge was, and is, to unify all our contacts’ information.  One of the goals of the IT Department, since its creation, has been to safeguard the technological independence of the organization. That's how we started the project of looking for an open source CRM that could help us with the unification and, at the same time, fitted our functional requirements.


The process of migration to CiviCRM has been a long process for us. We've planned it as a 2-year long project. As a consequence, the old applications will coexist with CiviCRM and that's a big challenge because we need to integrate about 5 different live databases with CiviCRM as part of the migration project.

Developed by

iXiam Global Solutions logo

The project has been managed internally by Amnesty’s IT Project Manger (that's me). We also counted with the collaboration of a couple of other organizations (Ixiam for CiviCRM consultancy and StrateBi for Pentaho developments). 
We divided the migration process to CiviCRM into several subprojects: use of CiviCRM for our press contacts, migration of our legacy software for managing members, migration of our webforms to CiviCRM, etc. For every subproject, we created a different team with different participants.

Why did this project use CiviCRM?

The first phase of our project was to decide between CiviCRM and SugarCRM.  Obviously, we studied the default functionalities that both CRMs offered. But it was not the only thing we wanted to look at.
Inspired by QSOS (a methodology for open source software selection) we wanted to take into account the role and involvement of the community in the development process, the frequency of updates, the quality and accessibility of the documentation, and the usability of its API, among other things. 
On February 2013 we posted our concerns in the forum. We were extremely impressed that the questions we posted in the forum during the selection process were answered not only by community members but by members of the Core Team.  We loved the openness of CiviCRM as a community and as a software product.