Monday, February 28, 2011 - 12:05
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A lot more that I thought, I found out at a I recent demo of CiviCRM at Simplify ICT, an event hosted in east London to boost the profile of free and open source software at non-profits.

I was getting bored with the standard intro to CiviCRM presentation (where I go through each module in isolation, giving an intro to what it can do and how it can be used) and wanted to do something more practical that non profits could easily relate to. So I ditched the standard presentation in favour of a practical demo showing CiviCRM in daily use. I settled on how does CiviCRM help me run an event? So the plan was:

  • create a mailing list for people interested in events
  • import some people, and add them to this mailing list
  • create a mailing list sign up page, and get people in the room to sign up for events
  • create an event with online registration
  • get people to register

I scheduled in hour to demo all this, but we were was all done in 40 minutes! which left us a good 20 minutes for discussion at the end.

Being able to do all of the above in 40 mins shows just how easy CiviCRM has made it for non profits to do CRM for themselves. Admittedly, we could only do this so quickly because a) we had a pre-installed CiviCRM up and running and b) we know the interface well, but even so it is still impressive.

Simplify ICT was organised for front line staff so I started by asking the audience if they thought they were 'techies'. Two people out of thirty people put their hands up. I then asked how many people had heard of CivICRM and the same two put their hands up!  It's worth taking note of the low number of people that have heard of CiviCRM and I think we should start putting more effort into promotion of our product.  On the plus side, even though it was a non technical audience, it was clear from the questions they were asking ('what about duplicates', 'can I integrate this with my website', etc.) that they understood what Civi could do for them and were thinking about how they could use it.

Some ideas for things I would do differently next time...

The practical demo is definitley better than a standard intro (which doesn't reflect how someone would use CiviCRM in real life) but everyone learns in different ways and too much practice means missing out on some theory.  On reflection, I think 30 minutes is enough of a practical demo and after that you can spend 10 minutes on all the other things you can do and the things you should know (CMS integration, hosting options, etc.,).  You can then spend 5 minutes looking at some CiviCRM sites in the wild, and after that people are hopefully interested enough to fill the last 15 minutes with questions about their specific use cases.

Simplify ICT was held on February 23rd in in East London and was organised by FOSSBOX to increase the profile of free and open source solutions for non profits. Thanks to Paula Graham for inviting Third Sector Design to come and speak!

If you're based in or around London and are interested in learning more about what your non profit can do with CiviCRM come come to our CiviCRM user and administrator training run in partnership with the core CiviCRM team on April 14th and 15th.  Register here!

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A video of such a presentation would be great. Online demonstrations? Video conference? Any events in Tokyo?

- Jason


Yeah - videos are a great idea.  We didn't have the resources this time but we'll be videoing the upcoming training in London in April and will put those online.  We're also planning a webinar or two in partnership with Dyslexia Action in June.


best thing to do if there aren't any events in tokyo is organise one.  find a venue, write a blog post, post an event, kick start the tokyo community :)

When I do te process event+invitation+registration, I always have the same bump in the road:


"Why is that that you need to painfully copy paste the text+date+location+link of the event in the email invitation ?"


My solution is usually to giggle while explaining that it's for their own good so they can modify the text in the invitation that might be different that the one online, but I'm not convinced that's the best strategy. Do you have a better solution ?


The other option I could think of was to blame the mythical "the developers" while waving my hand in the general direction of where these people are probably hiding, and say that they can make it happen, but no sure on that one either ;)



Good point.  My email consisted of the text.  "Come to our event.  Click here to find out more.".  How else was I meant to fit all this into 40 minutes?

Drupal's enewsletter does a good job of automatically creating and scheduling emails based on drupal content.  We could perhaps do the same for CiviCRM, so an events newsletter goes out once a month and automatically contains event details.

Or how about a token hook which creates tokens (one each) for all upcoming events?  That would be quite simple to implement and super useful.

thumb up for video conference