Using CiviCRM Book Review

Good afternoon everyone. I’ve been struggling with health issues lately so this book review is coming out a bit late. The name of the book is “Using CiviCRM” with a tagline of “Develop and implement a fully-functional, systematic CRM plan for your organization using CiviCRM”

As far as I know this is only the second book that has been written about CiviCRM. The first was is a FLOSS manual entitled “Understanding CiviCRM” (which I’ve read). Regarding the latter I am quite impressed with the Floss Manual project. In short they are “Free Manuals, for Free Software”. You can go there as I have done, peruse around, download and print anything you want. But that is a subject that deserves it’s own review.

Using CiviCRM is a great addition to the library of information anyone is collecting for their CiviCRM work. Whether that work is development or whether it is simply a user role, you’ll want to add this one to your library. Joseph Murray and Brian Shaughnessy (the authors) have a solid background in everything from CiviCRM itself to Web Development and the kinds of things that Nonprofit Organizations face on a day to day basis.

I started reading this book two and a half months ago. But since I only had a pdf copy it was dependent on what time I could read it when I was behind a computer. It wasn’t until I got my new cell phone a couple of weeks ago that I was able to use Calibre and get an ebook on my cellphone; that’s when the real reading began.

I am ‘so’ grateful for CiviCRM. When I was Executive Director of an NGO fifteen years ago I would have probably eaten CiviCRM for breakfast, taken CiviCRM for a walk in the afternoon, and put a copy of this book under my pillow at night in hopes that I would get some of what I had missed through osmosis. CiviCRM, as an opensource database project, has ninety percent of the features that the really expensive databases have and that last ten percent is likely something your NGO doesn’t need.

Ok now back to the Using CiviCRM book. It’s 464 pages long, more than twice the size of the free book. Admittedly you’ll have to skip over the usual introduction and background pages to get to the meat of the book but once you do you will certainly appreciate the ease of read. The aforementioned FLOSS manual that I had read is no where near as easy of a read. So, if you are a development person you’ll want to give a copy of this book to your client to reinforce the time that you spend with your client to train them.

Donald Lobo, Michal Mach, David Greenberg, Alan Dixon, David Geilhufe, Mohamed M. Hagag, Rico Landman, and Eileen McNaughton. Any of these names mean anything to you? If not then you probably haven’t spent any time on the CiviCRM forums. It’s always a good point for a technical book if it is backed, supported, and reviewed by the heavy hitters of the product it’s about. This book has that. One of the many things that I appreciate about this book is that it doesn’t try to suggest that CiviCRM is the best fit for everyone. As Joseph and Brian write in the Using CiviCRM, it’s true that CiviCRM is not the best choice for everyone. My thoughts on this are trying to implement CiviCRM is something that you’ll want to do if you have at least one really technically oriented person on staff who is already familiar with Drupal, and PHP. That person will also need to dedicate 90% of their time to this. Outside of that you’ll want to hire someone to do it for you. And please note this paragraph is ‘really’ oversimplifying the matter. CiviCRM is a powerful tool that can meet just about every constituent management requirement that an NGO would need. As such it will require many resources as well but the return on investment will be substantial.

Here I’m struggling with how much information to include in this review. There is so much to cover in this book and perhaps the best advice I can give you is click here and download a free chapter of the book. Take a look at it, and if you think it will fit both your goals and your budget then go with the hard copy/ecopy bundle.


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