CiviCRM is a powerful, all-around CRM tool designed specifically for non-profits to support them in their work with contact and relationship management, donations and fundraising, event management, membership administration, case management and sending out newsletters.
CiviCRM is open source software owned, developed and maintained by the community. Open source software is computer software for which the user has access to view the source code. This allows users to study, modify, improve, distribute or sell the software. CiviCRM is free to download and no license is required.
CiviCRM has an active and vibrant open source community. The development and maintenance of CiviCRM software is done by a wide variety of individuals, organisations, governments and others who have a vested interest in having well functioning software. Anyone can become a member of the community and contribute from his or her specific expertise: be it by creating new extensions, extending existing functionality or solving bugs.In addition, the community (i.e. all of us) provides support in the sense of documentation, videos, webinars and answering questions/questions.Inclusiveness and sharing of knowledge and expertise go hand in hand.
Unlike a closed source application there is not one vendor you can turn to for questions, comments, requests or complaints when it does not work properly. You pay no license fees and by downloading the software, it is yours but also your responsibility. You can use it yourself or you can ask a partner to help you implement it. If there are things that don’t work in CiviCRM because of a bug or because the functionality just isn’t there yet, then it’s up to you to decide whether you want it or accept that it isn’t there and look for an alternative.
This all requires a different approach than you would take with closed source. In closed source, the software owner/supplier decides what will be done. They guarantee that the software you have purchased will work. They also determine the pace of an implementation.
With open source, you have control over the tempo, the budget and the degree to which you contribute yourself or have a partner do so. This gives you much more control. With that control comes responsibility. Depending on your organisation, this may be positive or negative.