Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Katrina PeopleFinder Project Metrics Part II

The PeopleFinder project mobilized over 3,000 volunteers to accomplish these goals:

  1. Enter unstructured data on refugees from forums across the web to the highest data quality standards possible with volunteers giving a little as one hour of their time.
  2. Enter data from databases across the web into the central database via the PeopleFinder Interchange Format
  3. Minimize duplicate records
  4. Support other organizations in implementing the PeopleFinder Interchange Format
  5. Make the central database avaliable to be searched
  6. Use the Salesforce API to implement innovative technology solutions to the missing persons problem
What we accomplished:

The project started on September 1, 2005 with the Social Source Foundation, CivicSpace Labs and the Salesforce.com Foundation kicking off the community.
By September 5, we had finalized the Peoplefinder Interchange Format (PFIF), a technical standard for storing and exchanging refugee data.
By September 6, virtually every message board post was hand-entered by volunteers into the PeopleFinder database (100,000 records).
By September 10, almost every missing and found person record on the web was searchable at www.katrinalist.net (350,000 records).
By September 19, over 620,000 records are searchable.
In its first two weeks, the site processed over 500,000 searches
By October 2, the site had processed over one million searches and 649,015 records were searchable.

Even a month after the disaster, we received anecdotal stories of our impact:

> Dear David,
> I live in Burbank, ca, got home from work tonight (6pm PST)and had
> a phone messge from a friend here in LA. She lives on skid row but
> was born and raised in New Orleans.
> Her elderly mother and son and sister were in the katrina affected
> area, and she had tried to find them via phone calls and the
> internet, but could not. The desperation was thick in her voice
> message, she said she was very worried.
> I plugged in my WAN, and went to work. In 5 minutes, i kid you
> not, 5 DAMN MINUTES, i found her son, with a contact email and
> phone number. I set her up a hotmail email account, sent an email
> to him for her, then called her with the phone number. He is in
> Jacksonville NC.
> She said it was "only" midnight in Jacksonville and she is going to
> try and call !! I just hung up and her entire tone was happy and
> excited!
> I Wanted to send my deepest thanks to you and your crew (all 3000+)
> for giving me the tools to help my friend. You guys should run
> for office.
> Anyway, i cant thank you enough for all your hard work and
> sleepless nights. Acts of compassion and generosity like this give
> me hope for the human race. May God rest his rising star on all of
> you and bless you all the rest of your days on this earth.
> Peace,
> Sandy

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Katrina PeopleFinder Project Makes Discover Magazine

A gentleman, Dion Hinchcliffe, put together a very nice graphic of the Katrina PeopleFinder Project and an interesting take on a Discover Magazine article on our efforts.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Technology is a tool, not an answer.

CiviCRM serves four very big communities, the nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, advocacy, and political spaces. I love the advocacy & political guys because they are way ahead in their thinking. Aldon Hynes offered a great thought today:

Too many of the neo-techno-utopians fall into the same old thinking that technology is the panacea. Really, I suspect that in politics, as with so many of the social issues the world faces, the solution is getting more people to connect with one another, to share their thoughts, hopes, dreams and ideals. To the extent that technology helps get people to connect it can help address social issues. To the extent that it is even perceived as preventing real social connections, it is part of the problem.
In nonprofit technology, especially constitutent relationship management (fundrasing, case management, advocacy, etc.), technology needs to be evaluated to the extent it connects human beings to be more effective.

When we were thinking through our marketing pitch for the Social Source Foundation, we really struggled with efficiency vs. effectiveness. Human relationships lead to effectiveness. Efficiency is the realm of widgits and 4% reductions in operating expenses.

If the technology is really about the people, perhaps the language and message needs to reflect that.

CiviCRM serves three very big communities, the nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, advocacy, and political spaces. I love the advocacy & political guys because they are way ahead in their thinking.

Too many of theneo-techno-utopians fall into the same old thinking that technology in their thinking.

Monday, November 7, 2005

Announcing CiviCRM 1.2

The development teams keep putting out pretty amazing stuff. Probably the best feature in CiviCRM is you can define custom fields and have registered web site users maintain their own information about themselves (CiviCRM Profiles). But it does soo much more...

We are pleased to announce the latest release of CiviCRM, version 1.2! CiviCRM is a web-based, open source, internationalized, constituent relationship management (CRM) application, designed specifically to meet the needs of advocacy, non-profit and non-governmental organizations. As an open source solution, any company, organization or individual can download it, adapt it, modify it and use it without paying license fees.

CiviCRM is currently intended for qualified consultants who are considering deployment of a CRM solution for small to medium-sized non-profits. Organizations considering CiviCRM to meet specific needs should carefully evaluate CiviCRM.

Some Key Benefits of Deploying CiviCRM

  • Unified view of every constituent. Store information about individuals, organizations and households and your interactions with them.
  • Designed for Advocacy/NPO/NGOs. CiviCRM was designed for organizations that engage in advocacy, community and political organizing, and non-profit work.
  • Seamless integration with web sites. CiviCRM integrates directly into popular open source CMS packages, including Drupal and Mambo. Registration and visitor interactions are logged directly into the system, including end-user maintenance of their own addresses and custom fields.
  • Internationalized & Localized. CiviCRM was built from the ground up as a product intended to be used globally. It can store data in many localized formats and supports most languages globally.
  • Open source & open standards. Licensed under the AGPL, users can make any modification to the software, can benefit from modifications made by others and can effectively interoperate with other applications.
  • Affordable and cost effective. CiviCRM is available without a license fee and is supported by a community of nonprofit-focused consultants.

What’s new with 1.2?

  • Improved Data Import/Export. Import and export virtually any CiviCRM data field or set with an easy-to-use interface.
  • Improved “Profile” handling. We’ve optimized the display performance of our search. You can now search contacts quickly and efficiently. You can also now search on and display any CiviCRM field.
  • Improved API. We’ve implemented additional API calls including search, group membership, custom fields and more. Remote access via SOAP is now supported.
  • CiviMail. High volume mass emailing capabilities with the ability to track click-thrus and open rates. (Developer Release)

Demo, Downloads and Documentation

  • Test drive CiviCRM 1.2 on our demo site
  • Download CiviCRM here
  • Installation instructions can be found here
  • Documentation, including a Quick Start Guide and a detailed Administrator Guide can be found here

CiviCRM in a Nutshell

CiviCRM is a web-based CRM application that can be downloaded and installed either locally on a server, or in a hosted environment. It can be used as a powerful contact database application that allows you to record and manage information about your various constituents including volunteers, activists, donors, employees, clients, vendors, etc. Keep track of conversations, events or any type of correspondence with each constituent and store it all in one, easily accessible and manageable source.

Technical Requirements:

Runs on any platform that supports:
  • PHP 4.3+
  • MySQL 4.0 or 4.1
  • Drupal 4.6.3+ or Joomla 1.0.3+/Mambo4.5.3+
  • Joomla/Mambo version of CiviCRM only supports PHP4 at this time

Key Features in Detail:

  • Segmentation Tools. Use groups, simple and searchable tags, and/or relationships to segment constituents.
  • Extensive Configurability. CiviCRM is highly configurable, allowing you, in most cases, to configure it to work with your existing business processes. Unlimited locations, addresses, phone numbers, emails and custom data fields allow most unique needs to be met.
  • Internationalization & Localization. CiviCRM can store CRM data in many localized formats and supports most languages, currently including Brazilian Portuguese, German, Polish and Spanish.
  • Contacts. Store common nonprofit contact data (individuals, organizations, and households) that support donor management, case management, voter, and advocacy applications.
  • Relationships. Understand the relationships between any two contacts with standard (volunteer, employer, head of household) relationships or create your own unique custom relationship types.
  • Activities. Record standard activities (phone call, meeting, email) for any contact or create your own custom activities that meet your needs. External software can use the CiviCRM Application Programming Interface (API) to register activities with any contact, providing a comprehensive central repository of CRM information.
  • Smart Groups. Create smart groups based on any search criteria or create standard groups that are simply lists of contacts. The membership of a smart group changes automatically according to that moment’s search results.
  • Custom Data. Create unlimited custom data fields in virtually any format, including radio buttons, drop-down menus, etc. All custom fields are searchable and can define a smart group.
  • Support Multi-site Organizations and Networks. Centrally store data across multiple organizations or web sites.
  • Import and Export Functionality with De-duping. Import functionality intelligently maps CiviCRM fields to imported data and checks for duplicates based on user-defined criteria.
  • Robust Permissions. With Drupal integration, access to certain groups of contacts can be limited to specific users, offering a way for volunteers to manage small portions of a larger CiviCRM database.
  • Website Integration. CiviCRM is integrated with both Drupal and Joomla/Mambo. Web site registrations automatically become CiviCRM records and individuals can maintain their own CRM record. Offerings like CivicSpace 0.8.2 integrate e-mail blasts, event, volunteer and petition functionality with CiviCRM.
  • Application Programming Interface (API). A fully documented API exposing all major functionality of CiviCRM. For instance, you can search the database, register interactions with constituents, create or update contact information, etc. This allows CiviCRM to realistically be a central repository of virtually any nonprofit’s CRM information.

Future Releases

CiviCRM is in active development and is constantly improving. Some key features to look for are:
  • CiviMail is available in 1.2 as a developer release. In future releases, we will update this high-capacity email broadcast tool with more user-friendly access.
  • CiviCRM 1.3 will include CiviDonate, a donor management module and online donations solution.

About the Social Source Foundation

The Social Source Foundation is a 501-c-3 nonprofit creating internationalized, open source software of uncompromising quality for the nonprofit and nongovernmental sectors. Social Source Foundation is one of many partners in the creation of the CiviCRM platform, providing primary engineering support for the software.

How Do I Participate in the CiviCRM Project?

Interested parties are encouraged to participate in the development of CiviCRM. This can take the form of providing use cases, feedback on existing functionality, feature suggestions, code contributions, documentation contributions and beta testing. More info...