CiviCRM

Description Updated
Mar 17, 2023
Description

A contact relationship management (CRM) platform that has the ability store, track and segment large volumes of contact data and use it to take actions, like send messages via SMS and email. NDI hosts CiviCRM (or Civi for short) for partners through its DemCloud cloud-hosting service.

Notes

NDI can create new Civi sites in a matter of minutes for NDI partners. DemTech also provides tailored training and implementation support to ensure our partner's success. Timelines for implementation vary depending on the specific needs of the partner. Please contact us

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Organizations are all about people. To be effective in driving social change, leaders need to know who their supporters are, understand their concerns, know how to reach and mobilize them, and target undecided citizens. Civi, a constituent relationship management (CRM) system, keeps track of relationships and enables easy outreach and input via SMS, Facebook Messenger, and email. Civi can help political parties, civic organizations, and elected officials manage daily operations, engage in mass communication, coordinate campaigns, plan activities and events, raise funds, and view reports on all those activities. Civi is used by over 10,000 non-profits and has been deployed by NDI in over 30 countries.

Overview of Features

  • Communicate via multiple channels, such as email, SMS, printed mail merge, and online messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger. Messaging through email, SMS or online messaging platforms requires third-party integrations.
    • Email - We recommend integrating with Sparkpost - a mass email sending service that works with Civi. NDI can sponsor use of Sparkpost, but partners must use "@demcloud.org" as the sending domain.
    • SMS - We recommend integrating with Twilio or Telerivet. Messaging through SMS comes with a cost depending on where you are.
    • Online messaging platforms - Most online messaging platforms have policies that prohibit broadcasting messages to lists of contacts, instead users are required to initiate contact in order to enable Civi to respond. We recommend integrating with Google Dialogflow to use Civi to create these chat bots.
  • Manage casework and organize campaigns.
  • Available in dozens of languages, including Arabic, English, French, Russian, Spanish, Ukrainian, and more.
  • Accessible online from anywhere with minimal bandwidth requirements.
  • Strong access controls can limit access to targeted individuals.
  • Secure sign-in with two-factor authentication.
  • Updated theme makes Civi more accessible, inclusive, and user-friendly.

Technical Specifications

Civi Spark

For those looking to start out with Civi, Civi Spark is a simplified version of the tool available as a hosted service for about $10 per month.

Alternative Applications

CiviCRM is just one example of a contact managment system and it might not be the best option for your use case or budget. Some examples of alternative applications are Google GroupsMailChimpNGP VANNationBuilder and Salesforce.

Case Study: Citizen Opinion Surveys In DRC

Most political parties and civil society organizations want to focus on their supporters’ most pressing issues – but often that can be based on ad-hoc conversations, unrepresentative people working for the organization, or out-of-date assumptions. When working hard to advocate for change, it’s important to understand what people consider the most relevant challenges. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a group of NDI partners wanted to make sure they knew they really understood what their fellow citizens were most concerned about, and so they used Civi to gather that critical information as they prepared to launch broad advocacy campaigns in the runup to 2023 elections.

Collecting information, particularly in a large country like the DRC, can be a real challenge. Working with NDI, this group of reform champions selected CiviCRM (or Civi for short) as a tool to reach out to their target audiences and gather key information on their priorities. Civi is a CRM - a customer or constituent relationship management tool, designed to track an organization’s history of engagement with an individual, including as in this case information on what they find most important in the DRC. NDI provides hosted versions of Civi free to partner organizations, and so the NDI team was able to set up a separate Civi database for each group quickly. Organizations who don’t partner with NDI can either host the software themselves, if they have the requisite technical capacity, or use CiviSpark for easy hosting for a monthly subscription starting at $10. Learning to integrate any new technology into an organization can be challenging, and requires both learning how to use the system and then changing often deep-set habits to take advantage of the tech. These eight partner organizations began with in-person training on how and why to use Civi. 

Civi has a wide variety of features for civic and political organizations that can be turned on or off for individual projects based on partner needs, including sending mass email to members, collecting donations, organizing door-knocking or get-out-the-vote campaigns, tracking casework, or managing relationships with constituents. In this case, partners were using the CiviSurvey functionality to ask a structured set of questions to citizens across the DRC to understand their fellow citizens’ views on the key political and electoral questions of the time. The advocacy organizations all brought to the table spreadsheets with all the contact information they had for their supporters. Cleaning the data – making sure information was complete for each individual, removing duplicates, and altering the format so it was standardized – is always an important first step when adopting a CRM, and took longer than partners had expected.

When learning a new tool, language for technical support can be a major barrier. While Civi has been translated into dozens of languages, including French, one often needs help to get over bumps in getting started with a new system. NDI had a Francophone technical expert on call, able to help work through problems and make improvements to the system. 

CRM systems can help organizations in a wide variety of ways. Being able to communicate easily with supporters and interested people is useful for any civic or political group. In the DRC, these organizations were able to dramatically improve their capabilities for internal communication and outreach, giving them powerful new abilities that they were excited to use in the future

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