Co-ordinating Church Activities with CiviCRM
St Paul's Church, St Albans
St Paul's church is a large, active Anglican church in St Albans. With around 600 regular attendees, many visitors and a staff team of 10, effective administration and information management is vital. CiviCRM has replaced an old, in-house Access database providing a much richer range of functionality and enabling all staff to share and manage information effectively.
- Flexible, accessible system replacing an old Access database
- A family-based members address list
- Easy administration by staff
The aim of the project was to improve the management of data helping St Paul's staff in their roles and enabling more targeted communication with members.
St Paul's has many families but the concept of family is not well supported in CiviCRM. Core features do not include a “family editor” to add all family members on one page and set up multiple relationships (spouse/partner, parent/child, sibling, household member, household head). Households are a partial solution although that requires additional household entities to be maintained.
However, one of the great features of CiviCRM is its extensibility and with the help of the webform_civicrm Drupal extension we have created a webform to fill the gap for entering and maintaining family members and relationships.
Children's and youth groups are often based on age. Although the contact summary page displays an individual's age, it has not been possible to use that in searches. Code was developed to add searching by age range to the Demographics section of Advanced Search. This was contributed back and released in CiviCRM 4.7.0
St Paul's church staff led by the vicar, Canon Tony Hurle.
CiviCRM implementation and data migration was by Aidan Saunders (Squiffle Consulting)
"We have been making the transition to a larger church and staff team and CiviCRM is a key part of that. The ability to produce an address list with family groupings has been important to us and we are starting to use it for mailing groups – some church, some to do with conferences or across the area. We are also keen to use it for reports to inform us of patterns and hence areas needing development. With Aidan's customised forms and reports it is a really useful tool for our situation."
Canon Tony Hurle, Vicar of St Paul's
Why did this project use CiviCRM?
There are many church database systems available: closed or open source, free or paid, online or standalone.
St Paul's wanted a flexible system capable of organising a wide range of data making it available to the right people in the right way at the right time. Their needs included data relating to individuals, families, groups and related organisations with facilities to manage events, take online payments and manage volunteers.
St Paul's also wanted a system that avoided proprietary lock-in where they truly owned the data and could choose to migrate to an alternative system at a later point if desired. At the same time, they wanted a system with an established user base, an active ecosystem and a range of support options enabling them to manage costs. The church wanted something that could grow with them – providing great 'out-of-the-box' features while also adaptable to their specific needs, both current and as yet unknown.
CiviCRM's wide range of built-in features, its extensible architecture, widespread adoption and flexible hosting options were a natural fit.