CiviCRM is a cloud-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. CiviCRM offers 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. CiviCRM stores all data, contact information and event history at one central place. Individuals can sign up for their membership, renew subscriptions, make donations, receive notifications and more. CiviCRM offers 40+ reporting templates to create custom reports.
CiviCRM 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.
Eitan from Westminster Economic Development Initiative
Employees number: 11-50 employees
Cost - our volunteer based organization is always looking for cheap solutions to complex problems. This coupled with ease of use makes a great software tool for non-profits.
Mass imports are painful to execute and time consuming. Existing reports are easy to replicate but custom reports are almost impossible without a consultant.
Shirley from Florida Native Plant Society
Employees number: 1 employee
Very functional so long as you don't need something new
Cost -- our volunteer run organization could afford it (we pay for hosting which includes administrator and user coaching)
Highly functional and generally very easy to use
Very flexible with extensions that are much more advanced than found in cost-comparable products -- membership, events, etc.
Very good API
Ability to fully get all data out of it
Import of large quantities of data using supplied import procedures is painful at best. That said, a person who understands the database can bypass the worst of it -- however, we could do this, and the closest competing product priced itself out of our reach by an excessive import fee.
While existing reports are easy to use, creating truly new ones is nearly impossible (need to create a new extension)
Sadly lacking documentation on creating extensions
Rusty from Jeannette Rankin Peace Center
Employees number: 1 employee
Flexibility. It can do almost anything for non computer people, that flexibility can also be a disability
It can be complicated. It has such flexibility that it can be daunting . Consultants can help but are costly.
Costa from Sinditamaraty
Employees number: 2-10 employees
I really like to feel that CiviCRM is a successful free/open source software.
I like the fact the CiviCRM works nicely, have a lot of features I need and are integrated to my CMS.
Some translation to languages around still need, help everybody could help. Same to new payment methods to places different from Major markets.
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.
The flexibility of working with a strong team that understands the business requirements gets the non-profit up to speed faster.
Great Business Rules, Forms and Integrations. The setup is complicated as the Non-Profit needs to understand its business processes. Being forced to understand what works and best practices is a significant benefit.
Be prepared to spend time on setting CiviCRM on the right path. The user interface is old fashioned compared to Program Management tools I'm used to for software development. Search is in the fashion of a database query rather than as a blob search. You have to know what you are looking for in a number of different areas rather than have the search self-develop,
Rose from Vital Strategies
Employees number: 11-50 employees
Integral to operations as a small nonprofit almost entirely funded by donations/member support.
I loved how expansive the system was. I liked that I could use it as both a record of donors and donations etc. and as a way to process and track payments/money received.
It sometimes felt a little bit "clunky" and wasn't always all that intuitive. Running reoprts on internal data was a little bit too convoluted and required a lot of data cleanup up, but that being said, was still a great tool and invaluable to our operations.
Jonathan from Lyons Digital Media
Employees number: 2-10 employees
CiviCRM integrates CRM functions for associations, affiliation groups and others as an add-on for the top GPL content management systems WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. We have been installing and hosting CiviCRM for several years and it has become a standard part of our toolbox.
It is especially strong on event registration and membership management. CiviMail does an excellent job with bounce and subscription management, but it's not as user friendly as a service like MailChimp or Constant Contact for HTML mail composition. CiviContribute handles payments for memberships, donations and events.
CiviCase brings case management into to application and CiviVolunteer helps you keep track of the eager beavers who want to help your cause.
We have used CiviCRM for projects ranging from an international arts group to our son's Boy Scout troop. We have used it for camping registrations and conference registrations for thousands of users.
The real gem, as in any CRM tool are the reporting tools. You can pull membership, attendance or other reports in minutes. Think of a data related question and get an answer quickly and simply.
Excellent event registration and membership management at a price that can't be equaled. Best of all, it works in and with our client's websites.
It's not an intuitive tool. You need to learn the logic of CiviCRM to get things done. It's not hard, but I wouldn't give it to a client without a few explanations and probably training.
Rennie from The Wright Opera House
We consolidated a range of spreadsheets into CiviCRM and use it for donor management and email management. We're growing into memberships and events now, and CiviCRM out of the box continues to meet our needs. We're not super technical, so there are times when we need support. The online documentation and community is responsive and helpful.
Parliament from Parliament of the World's Religions
Employees number: 2-10 employees