CiviCRM is a Web-based, open source constituent relationship management (CRM) system developed specifically to address the needs of nonprofit, civic sector and association-based organizations.
Because CiviCRm is open-source, it’s highly customizable and free to use and develop. The out-of-the-box feature set is comprehensive, offering a variety of tools such as online and offline fundraising, grant tracking, event planning, donor and member management, advocacy campaigns, case management, communications and bulk email and more.
This software integrates directly with WordPress, Drupal and Joomla content management systems, and is localized in over 20 languages, including Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Swedish.
In 2014, CiviCRM’s founder, Donald Lobo, was awarded the Pizzigati Prize for Software in the Public Interest for his work helping thousands of nonprofits grow their networks. And in 2011, NTEN gave CiviCRM an “overall grade of 'A.'"
Alex from Clearnote Fellowship
CiviCRM is extremely versatile and customizable. We use it to produce letters to donors and large mailing lists for various functions. If you have a fair amount of technical web knowledge, you can integrate your database with other online software like MailChimp. It is also FREE!
CiviCRM is pretty clunky and not pleasing to the eye. While you can segment your database in almost any way with the search features, it's often nearly impossible to know which version of the search interface you should use: Advanced Search? Search Builder? Full-text Search???????
Search around. If you don't have good technical/web programming knowledge, use something else. I'm fortunate to have several guys who can work on the back end of this software, but would find it very frustrating to operate on my own. I still often find it frustrating.
Bryan from Uw-Madison
Specialty: Higher Education
Very active and helpful community around the CiviCRM. Lots of free intergrations.
I think it would have been very difficult to get the full value out of CiviCRM without Back Office Thinking to guide us. There is a lot of add ons and extensions that would be tricky to navigate for people coming to the product without expertise. It may be easier out of the box for more standard deployments but our needs were sufficiently different that we really did need a guide.
There is a lot to CiviCRM but the community is very helpful. Make sure you find a few people you can talk with about CiviCRM, there may already exist a solution for what you need but it isn't always clear where that solution is, having an expert can really help!
Chelsea from Kairos Earth
I work for a very small and relatively new non-profit organization and CiviCRM has been the perfect combination of intuitive/ user-friendly, as well as adaptive to our unique needs as we continue to define our direction, expand our scope, and grow to reach a larger audience. Civi has allowed us to track and maintain well-rounded profiles of our constituents, donors, participants, and volunteers -- many of whom fit into multiple of these categories. I have a lot left to learn about Civi and when I get stumped, I can almost always find the answer in the forums online or through our vendor.
I've had the most difficulty with CiviCRM integrating into our Mailchimp account and newsletter. Overall, it's worked quite well but there have been several glitches and several times where the solution or steps to take to fix a problem were not at all obvious (to me, at least!).
I would definitely make independent lists of what your organization is seeking to do, attempt to anticipate the directions you may go in in the future, and identify crucial functions that you'd like a database to be able to perform. Speaking to someone very familiar with CiviCRM was very helpful to me as I researched and evaluated options, as online descriptions are often too general to effectively address the particular needs of a particular group.
Karl from South Shore Networks LLC
CiviCRM is free and open source, meaning the development is driven by a community dedicated to it's success. The community is fairly responsive and keeps an active release cycle as well as an extension community which build meaningful extensions to functionality.
Specializing in political clients, CiviCRM is not the most documented to reach these markets. However, I am working with others to expand this as I have personally tested several competing products and found CiviCRM to be the most versatile in this space.
If your organization interacts with a number of people in support of it's mission, with complex and differing roles, CiviCRM may be the optimum solution for your needs.
Nicolas from IT Bliss, LLC
The depth and breadth of functionality is staggering, and the community provides extensions that enrich the product even more. The software is highly configurable and can be adapted to almost any nonprofit organization's needs. And if a feature is not there, you can always add it as the full source code is available.
Setup and administration is quite technical, documentation is extensive but could still be improved. Users will feel lost at first due to the richness of the software, but with a little hand holding will get the gist of it and start exploring.
Do not install and configure this on your own unless you have a very strong technical background. Rely on a volunteer with such skills, or hire a consultant to help you through the initial setup and to train you on using the product.
Detlev from Digitalcourage e.V.
- Very broad feature set
- Open source: makes us independent from a single provider
- large community: Several professional service providers, and many voluntary helpers made us solve any problem quickly
- learning curve: Due to the broad features and complexity we needed quite some time to fully understand the capabilities
- Take help from a professional service provider, or, take time and try it out.
- Make use of resources (books, stackexchange, etc.)
- The user interface is easy to work with
- Administrating is easy, in respect to the enormous features.
Donald from Chintu Gudiya Foundation
Specialty: K-12 Education
The software is free, libre and open source. it is customizable and extensible and works seamlessly with the most popular content management systems. It has public support forums, chat rooms and issue tracker.
The software is free and open, you need to have the expertise (or pay someone) to install and customize it for you.
Before extending the code, ensure that the product does not do the same thing using different terms or keywords.
Fatima from Roll A Hippo Foundation
Specialty: Human Services
CiviCRM includes everything you'd expect from a robust, comprehensive non-profit CRM solution: mailings, memberships, contributions, pledges, volunteer management, contact groups, activity tracking, events, and more. Its extensible, open-source nature means its always evolving and can be adapted to your needs.
Like most CRMs, it does draw upon server resources--and since it must be integrated with your site, that means it's drawing upon the same resources as your CMS-based website. I wouldn't want to use it on budget shared hosting, which is unfortunately the kind of hosting most small non-profits have.
Consider your needs, the time and/or funds you can invest to hire a developer to customize and/or maintain it, and the server resources you have.
Steve from Denver DataMan
CiviCRM is open source. There is no cost in getting started if you have the expertise yourself. There is also an excellent Eco-system of vendors that install, upgrade, migrate, extend and support CiviCRM.
Because the product is open source is lacking some of the features that other CRMs have. That said there is a large library of extensions and material on the Internet to help you make CiviCRM do everything you want it to.
When evaluating CRM software there are many choices. I recommend listing key features down the first column of a spreadsheet and the CRMs you are reviewing in the subsequent columns. This will give you a visual of what tools best meet your needs. you should always look at the product before make a selection.
Jim from Non-profit
Specialty: Political Organizations
Fairly easy and straightforward. Haven't had many problems once I got to know it.
I have had some trouble using the scheduled mailings feature. Once the mailing didn't go out at all.
It works. I would recommend it. It is fairly simple amd straightforward to use.
Joshua from Joshua Duarte Development
Best price, and meets a lot of needs out of the gate.
Lacks some advanced features, like advanced mailing list activities.
Good user training is important. Consider it when desigining your processes and workflows.