CiviDay 2016 in Bristol
CiviCRM is a great free and open source CRM package that’s used by thousands of organisations (many in the community and voluntary sectors. Ed.) around the world to maintain their contacts database, produce email newsletters and much, much more.
We at Bristol Wireless have been using CiviCRM for many years for those first two above-mentioned purposes and it’s more than proved its value to us.
Yesterday, 24th February, was designated as CiviDay 2016 – an international celebration of CiviCRM that embraced 24 events held on 3 continents around the world at venues ranging from the headquarters of the Free Software Foundation in Boston, MA, to social centres.
There were originally 25 events planned, but the one in St Louis, Missouri was postponed due to snow!
Bristol hosted one of three CiviDay events in the UK, the others being in Manchester and London.
In Bristol we were the guests of Circle Interactive, the local web design, Drupal and CiviCRM consultancy. The attendees themselves presented a broad range of skills and experience covering at the two extremes people who were simply users of CiviCRM in their daily administrative work to those actively developing and customising the software.
Circle’s Sean Kenny opened proceedings with a short presentation for new users (of which there were none in attendance. Ed.) before a short break. Sean then handed over to Michael McAndrew, CiviCRM’s community manager.
After some background facts and figures, Michael’s talk focussed on the future and what 2016 in particular held for the project.
Michael remarked that version 4.7, the latest release, will be the last of the 4.x series. All future development effort will be concentrated on preparing for the next major release – version 5.0. The first release of the 5 series will be made available when a number of changes have been implemented, including a new API with business logic, a new theme layer and a flexible form builder. Michael also pointed out that user input would be very valuable for the development of CiviCRM5. One final area that was discussed at length was fundraising, that constant bane of any mature open source project.
A number of pertinent points were raised by attendees both during the presentations and the final informal circular huddle. One of the most interesting of these was raised by a gentleman from the RNIB, who mentioned the specific accessibility problems some of his visually-impaired users faced with their later versions of CiviCRM and screen readers. Michael suggested these could be mitigated in Version 5 via the new theme layer.
Another question raised was the use of CiviCRM to personnel management, better know these days by the acronym HR. CiviCRM can be used as it is to perform many HR tasks, in addition to which there’s also the CiviHR module which converts the CRM into a HR system. However, as more than one user pointed out, using CiviCRM for HR purposes does require the implementation of access control levels.
One very useful UK-specific plug-in that was mentioned will be of particular interest to British charities who use CiviCRM to record donations; and that’s a plug-in for administering Gift Aid, the tax relief UK taxpayers receive when they donate to charity. The plug-in will communicate with the taxman to make sure relief is claimed.
The session ended with a commitment to resume regular local Bristol CiviCRM meet-ups and an announcement that Circle Interactive will be holding 2 CiviCRM training days soon, one each in both London and Bristol.
Finally my thanks go out to Circle Interactive for being generous hosts, Sean and Michael for their presentations and my fellow attendees for making Bristol’s CiviDay 2016 so enjoyable.