What was the best part about using CiviCRM?
CiviCRM helps you as a non-profit organization to track contact, donations, pledges and create memberships. It allows members to pay their dues seamless from their online account. I like having CiviCRM integrated into Wordpress because I'm very familiar with it as a content management system but it integrates well with Drupal and Joomla as well which is great. It's open source at the core so if you're technical it's possible to set this all up into your CMS no problem. Otherwise they have integration and onboarding services you can utilize.
There's a good amount of customization possible in your account. You can enable or disable modules to completely optimize CiviCRM for your scenario. You can get into a good workflow using this system. It's very easy to learn and utilize all of the functionality from a top menu inside your Wordpress dashboard. It's loads quick and is very clean and straightforward make your way around each of the modular components. I especially like the ability to email from your dashboard it's so easy to do. In just a few clicks you can send a message to all of your contacts or just a select individual. I wish the CiviCRM membership module was available in regular Wordpress installations because it's so easy to use and create new memberships.
The modular based features in CiviCRM are very robust. You'll find each component including the Contacts, Contributions, Mailings, Events, Memberships, Report, Administer and Support menus at the top of your dashboard to each have a nice level of sophistication to go with the overall great customization possible. I was pleased to learn how much is possible in CiviCRM and how well refined their CRM is to suit this industry.
There's a nice selection of integrations available by third parties with CiviCRM which can help extend it's features and functionality which I really like. You'll find this software is constantly being developed and always being updated with new features which is good to know. If you're somewhat technically proficient and a self learner you will do well with this CRM because there is good documentation, forums available and a lot of resources to help you help yourself available freely online.
What would you change about your experience with CiviCRM?
While you must be technically inclined to install this on your own server it is possible to do. You can completely customize the code if you want as it's open source. But for most people and organizations there is a steep learning curve to do this and this is going to be a significant investment relatively speaking. Also ensure your server meets all of the requirements before moving forward with any sort of integration. I would suggest spending some time communicating with their team to learn all of your options through the company, while doing research to learn the best possible third party experts and services which can speed up integrations and have them be optimized in the most cost effective manner.
It's a terrific contact relationship management tool for non-profit organizations but because it's open source doesn't mean it's not without financial costs. Most organizations would need to already have an expert available or the means to bring someone on board to install and configure this software initially. While there are also costs for hosting, software maintenance and backups. That being said, it's got very useful functionality and features available for creating and tracking online pledges, donations, events and membership dues.