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CiviCRM Thoughts or Referrals

  • 1.  CiviCRM Thoughts or Referrals

    Posted Feb 05, 2019 09:35
    Hello, we are considering CIviCRM for our next donor database. We have spent several months looking at demos of other systems and got to a point where we couldn't find anything that felt like a good fit so Civi came up in our search and looks to be a good option with the customizations that can be done. We are wondering if anyone uses it and if so, have you worked with one of their partners that you would recommend for us to speak with. It would be great if we can get connected to one of their partners to do a demo with our donor team.

    Thanks for your help in advance!

    Contessa Siegner
    Sr. Director of IT & Operations
    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    Matthews, NC
    Tech Accelerate

  • 2.  RE: CiviCRM Thoughts or Referrals

    Posted Feb 06, 2019 08:41

    Hi Contessa,

    We've used Civi quite a bit and I'm happy to share any experiences if you'd like more information on the platform and the pros and cons. We are a tech consulting company so our experience is from that perspective, from many clients that we help to run Civi.


    Probably the main suggestion I would make is to have access to some sort of support on the system to help you with the configuration and with any technical issues that may come up, as well as training. It's a powerful platform but there is a definite learning curve and having some assistance is invaluable. With setting up basically any CRM it would be advisable to have assistance, but Civi in particular.


    There are some pretty obvious tradeoffs with this platform, basically that there are absolutely zero licensing/purchasing costs (although you need to provide some sort of hosting to run the software on), which goes along with not having free support from the source company itself. I would suggest to budget for this, both as an initial cost to set up the system (I have no idea what your situation is but expect to need $5,000 or more, depending), as well as ongoing costs for the support and hosting as mentioned above (on average maybe expect in the range of a few hundred dollars /month). You can do it for less, but again it just depends on your situation.


    One obvious benefit of the pricing model here is that it's not based on the # of users, unlike most other systems. That can be hugely beneficial to many organizations. As well, a caveat to what I've said above is if you have someone quite technical on your team. That is a definite asset, although you would still benefit from someone with Civi-specific experience to advise them.


    In terms of options for partners, Civi does have "official" partner organizations but there are many more out there to choose from outside of that list. Obviously the ideal situation is if you can get a direct referral from someone else that you trust, as you're asking for on this list. :)


    In terms of whether Civi is a good fit for your needs, that's hard to say without knowing more details, but if you need pretty typical contact/donor management it's likely to be quite reasonable as an option.


    I'm happy to discuss if you have any questions or to give a quick demo if you like, no big deal.





    Martin Hansen
    Senior Consultant / R&D Lead
    519.725.7875 x2120 | 888.817.3048


    PeaceWorks™ Technology Solutions
    101 - 554 Parkside Drive,
    Waterloo ON  N2L 5Z4


    Mission driven technology solutions





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    Tech Accelerate

  • 3.  RE: CiviCRM Thoughts or Referrals

    Posted Feb 06, 2019 09:01
    We've used CiviCRM for over 5 years now. We're very fond of it.
    However, we've never used an outside consultant - we've always done our own maintenance and customization.
    If you have any questions about CiviCRM's general operation or add-ons (especially CiviCase), I'm happy to answer them.

    Jonathan Leistiko
    The TexVet Initative
    Round Rock, TX

    Tech Accelerate

  • 4.  RE: CiviCRM Thoughts or Referrals

    Posted Feb 06, 2019 09:29

    We've been using CiviCRM on a Drupal 7.x CMS for about 5 years and have benefitted greatly from it.

    Our installation was mainly done mostly in-house with a consultant who had only recently left our office. His familiarity with the nature of our membership and our goals was critical. CiviCRM is highly customizable, so if you plan well you can really come up with a system uniquely tailored to your needs.

    Martin's reference to the pricing model and the freedom from user count restriction brings something to mind. We weren't as strict with ourselves as we could have been when bringing in our old contacts and we have paid the price for it multiple times over the years. The digital weight of each contact adds up and has the potential to make many common processes much more difficult and time consuming. The freedom from restriction there is a double-edged sword.

    I'd be happy to answer any questions on any particular CiviCRM functions.

    Greg Galloway (he/him)
    White Plains, NY

    Tech Accelerate

  • 5.  RE: CiviCRM Thoughts or Referrals

    Posted Feb 06, 2019 11:06
    I was using CiviCRM for the past 5 years, however, mainly for email communications and event registration - our donor database was separate. (That is not an ideal situation.) Since Civi is open-source, the top people should be those who regularly contribute to the project, and that information should be on the Civi website. Our consultants were Palante, but I think the main Civi person I worked with is no longer with them.

    Jean Gazis
    Nonprofit Communications Specialist
    Jean Gazis Copy & Content Services
    New York, NY

    Tech Accelerate

  • 6.  RE: CiviCRM Thoughts or Referrals

    Posted Feb 06, 2019 11:44
    Edited by Corey Brown Feb 06, 2019 16:04
    Our organization (Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.) has been using it on a Drupal 7 based website since about 2011. I was brought in around 2015 to help clean up the database and get it back in order. I start with this statement because like any database, plan accordingly from the start. You'll need someone who knows what they're doing and a thorough plan to execute it well. Once the database gets our of hand, like ours did, you'll be doing a lot of backtracking to fix mistakes.

    That being said, CiviCRM is a good software, with its questionable quirks. The biggest gripe that I consistently run across and I echo myself is that the software is very antiquated (both in feel and, at times, functionality). Things that should be easy to find get muddled in a copious amount of menus and simple tasks often take an extra click or two. That being said, there has been a push in recent years for the community and core team to elevate the software into the modern age. In the last two years alone, the software has seen numerous, new extensions including a UI refresh (Shoreditch), a better mailing component (Mosaico), a cleaner case system (rebuilt CiviCase), and a bunch of other functionality (Contact Editor, CiviTutorial, etc.). In addition, there are upcoming extensions that look to radicalize CiviCRM including the much anticipated Form Builder (check out: https://civicrm.org/blog/josh/understanding-civicrm-form-builder-for-the-layman).

    There was a time when I would say steer away from CiviCRM because, while powerful, it can be a convoluted mess for the aforementioned reasons. Unless you had an outside vendor or you'd taken the time to read through documentation (which has improved tremendously), it was very easy to get lost. CiviCRM has matured in some ways and understands that it needs to make changes if it's going to survive. To go along with the community push, a committee was also formed in the last few months to help make recommendations on how to guide the project into the future: https://civicrm.org/blog/josh/call-for-establishment-committee-nominations. Information from these talks is supposed to be released soon. It's very promising.

    From my perspective, if CiviCRM seems attractive to you and meets your checklist, I say go for it, while taking in the advice and opinions of others in this forum. If you want to chat further on how it works w/ Drupal (e.g. Views, Webforms, etc.), feel free to join us on the Drupal CoP. There a few people over there that also utilize CiviCRM extensively like our organization does. Some other places you might want to explore include the very active CiviCRM chat (http://chat.civicrm.org) and the question/answer site (http://civicrm.stackexhange.com). There will also be a couple different panels about CRMs (one or two with CiviCRM included) at the NTC, so I encourage you to attend those if you're going to the pre-con.

    Corey Brown
    Web Resource Coordinator
    Silver Spring, MD

    Tech Accelerate

  • 7.  RE: CiviCRM Thoughts or Referrals

    Posted Feb 06, 2019 15:27
    Contessa, CiviCRM can certainly be made to work though it may be free the same way a kitten is 'free', expect to pay going forward. Of course the same can be said of the free Salesforce licenses a non-profit can get.

    I would personally recommend Back Office Thinking (https://backofficethinking.com/) for either Salesforce or CiviCRM consulting. We've used them for Salesforce strategy and development and have been very happy and I know they have an extensive CiviCRM practice as well.

    David Smith
    Director of IT
    California State Parks Foundation
    San Francisco, CA

    Tech Accelerate

  • 8.  RE: CiviCRM Thoughts or Referrals

    Posted Feb 07, 2019 12:40
    If an organization wants to invest in CiviCRM and is looking for a great firm to implement, then I want to echo looking into Back Office Thinking for that implementation.

    Tim Sarrantonio
    Director of Strategic Partnerships
    Neon One

    Tech Accelerate

  • 9.  RE: CiviCRM Thoughts or Referrals

    Posted Feb 07, 2019 09:26
    Speaking as a CRM selection consultant, I can say that Civi hasn't won out in a selection process we've run in the last 5 years. Our observation is that Civi is a powerful tool, beloved by DIYers and tech geeks for its values as much as its feature set. However, it requires substantial expertise to implement and maintain, it has a dated interface, and non-technical end-users strongly dislike it. Certailny, Civi works for some orgs, and folks in here have had good experiences. But the market is full of choices today, and we haven't had an experience where Civi was the best-fit solution in a long time.

    Isaac Shalev
    Stamford CT

    Tech Accelerate

  • 10.  RE: CiviCRM Thoughts or Referrals

    Posted Feb 07, 2019 12:37
    Hey Contessa,

    If you are looking for a resource in your area I recommend Rebecca Achurch rebecca@achurchconsulting.com.  Rebecca lives in Charlotte and specializes in membership systems.

    One thing to keep in mind is how this solution will support the work you and your team have done relevant to GDPR and privacy.  The AMS plays a key role as a processor and will be instrumental in handling data subject access requests and protecting the CIA of the data.

    Good luck with this initiative.


    William Rankin
    Manager, Compliance and Privacy Services
    American Technology Services

    Tech Accelerate

  • 11.  RE: CiviCRM Thoughts or Referrals

    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous
    Posted Feb 07, 2019 12:54
    This post was removed
    Tech Accelerate