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What is CiviCRM Hosting?

Non-profit organizations will find a constituent relationship management solution packed with tools suited to their specific needs with CiviCRM. Non-profits are known for having needs that are efficient and easy to manage. Just because they are non-profit doesn’t mean there aren’t financial resources to be spent on initiatives like this, but funding can be cyclical and the needs can be as great as or even greater than those of organizations in the profit sector due to regulation, compliance and the international nature of many non-profit organizations.

In other words, there’s no time to waste for administrators, managers and coordinators – solutions have to be quick, flexible and ready to go.

That’s where CiviCRM shines as it is a powerful Constituent Relationship Management system. When you host it, it means an instant platform with a quick deployment. It’s a bit complicated because it shares an acronym with Client Relationship Management systems (CRM), but is actually focused on the needs of charities, non-profits and public sector organizations in mind as opposed to commercial needs. With this specialty on members, donations, stakeholders and campaigns, rather than with customers, clients, leads and sales, CiviCRM is a great way to run a nonprofit organization.

Open Source with High Features

CiviCRM is an Open Source software that is unique because it is designed to be installed on top of one other Open Source Content Management Systems (CMS) including WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. This harmonious integration means a lot of features make their way across the platforms, delivering the benefits of both in a unique fashion that makes this software so powerful. With extreme ease, an organization can track the funds raised from its constituents, put together campaigns, and statistics. CiviCRM also gathers information in powerful reports that include membership summaries that can be broken down by the membership type, the number of contributions, by month and complete payment info. It can also develop and distribute charity newsletters for members.

CiviCRM also has event management features that set it apart, including participant tracking, registration and attendance information. CiviCRM lets you accept contributions (online and off), automatically generate receipts and thank-you’s, and even allow peer-to-peer fundraising. Email communication includes everything an organization would expect from CRM, and events can be synced with iCal, social network sharing, and Google Maps. Stable releases are currently compatible with Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress, and the software is available in more than 20 languages.

The software includes a generous feature set. Included tools allow you to track contacts, contributions, communications, peer-to-peer fundraisers, advocacy campaigns, events, members, reports, and case management. You’ll use a Web-based, customizable dashboard to access everything. Every feature has myriad options. For example, members can be created to work with multiple organizations, and at different levels in each. After creating membership forms, renewal reminder mailings, organize membership lists, you can use those lists to set site access permissions.

As customer relationship management (CRM) is an umbrella term that covers a variety of software focused on streamlining the management of customer information, it doesn’t quite provide everything a non-profit requires. Some CRM solutions are not much more than address books. In the case of CiviCRM, the name includes the word “civic” because this software is created to address the needs of nonprofits and civil-sector organizations. CiviCRM is a better choice for organizations that deal with members, donations, stakeholders and campaigns, as non-profits do rather than strictly with business concerns like customers, clients, leads and sales.

Free to Use and Adapt

As an open source project, CiviCRM is free to use and adapt. As of December 2013, the stable release is licensed under the GNU Affero General Public License 3 (GNU AGPL 3) and the CiviCRM Licensing Exception. CiviCRM encourages active participation from you in any way you can manage, even if you’re not a developer. Translations and donations are two of the most popular ways for non-developers to support an open source project like CiviCRM.

CiviCRM may not be the right choice for every organization, but it is a powerful aid to those in its target market. If you’re seeking an open-source, customizable CRM solution with the right mix of tools for fundraising and advocacy, you’ll most likely find lasting value in this application. As always, check with your hosting provider to be sure CiviCRM will be supported when you install it.

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