I’ve spent a lot of time over the last 5 years with CiviCRM and I am still convinced that it is the best option for non-profit organisations. There are exceptions, of course, but for the vast majority of these organisations, big or small, CiviCRM is a really good fit!
But what’s so good about it?!
That’s a fair question, there are a lot of CRMs out there! Firstly, it’s really flexible, so you can switch on or off components, depending on what’s relevant for your organisation. If you want simple, you can bring down to a small number of menus; if you want complex but user-friendly, you can combine this with permission restrictions to only show the relevant menus to users to ensure they don’t become overwhelmed with options.
It’s also really easy to customise – you can do a lot without writing a single line of code. The administration options in CiviCRM allow you to configure the site to match your organisation.
For example, I find nomenclature a big deal, even if people don’t realise it. I had one client with ‘members’ who did not ‘join’ but simply matched the required characteristics, and ‘subscribers’ who paid an annual fee for discounts, etc. This became very confusing until we realised what the problem was. 5 minutes later with the ‘Word Replacement’ feature, and I had replaced the word ‘Memberships’ with ‘Subscriptions’ across the whole site, and created a ‘Member’ report based on the required characteristics, and everyone felt a lot less confused!
Is it free?
CiviCRM is open source software, which means that the software is free to install or modify by anyone, so in one sense it is completely free! In practice, though, most organisations don’t have the specific skills and experience in-house to install and configure CiviCRM according to their needs. This usually means a CiviCRM provider is brought on board to take on this role. And that costs money.
However, I still see this as a positive – organisations looking to install CiviCRM have a wide choice of providers and have more freedom to choose the level of support and customisation that suits their budget. Some larger providers are more expensive but are able to offer a significant level of custom work and support, whereas the smaller providers are able to offer a more personal experience.
There are many CRMs on the market, and many different factors to take into account when implementing a new CRM in an organisation, but I am confident of CiviCRM’s place in the market and I know it’s a very good choice for anyone looking for an ethical and cost effective system.