Considerations for the Brecht Forum re Moving to Civicrm

This project is being discussed in ticket #1639.

A related project is the CRM review project. In particular, the use cases are relevant.


  • Improve recordkeeping capacity by consolidating and integrating data that is now in several locations
  • Improve capacity for targeted email outreach (by group, people who attended particular events, subscribers, etc.)
  • Improve online fundraising capacity

Current Situtation

Much of our data is in our offline filemaker database

Contacts (current "participants" table)

  • Categorized by individual, organizations, media, foundations, university, etc.
  • With “profile” info – board and committee members, donors, subacribers, volunteers, etc.


We have been tracking donations in our offline database since the 1980s.

Our online donations page is still on our pre-drupal site and does not go to paypal, but to our original merchant service

PROBLEM: The data for online donations goes into the online donations database and it is still a duplicate entry to move that data to the offline database and it is no longer maintained regularly


Again, our online subscription page is on the old pre-drupal site and info goes into the database we set up on that site. As in the case of regular donations, we also receive them by check.

PROBLEM: This is a very problematic area because it is difficult (requiring several duplicated steps) to get the status of subscriptions all in one place. All of the info does get into the bookkeeping,. There are supposedly ways to integrate quickbooks with filemaker, but we are far from achieving that.

Events --going back close to 15 years

When we switched to a database-driven site, we would download the events entered online and append them to the offline database and then enter registration info so that we could track who participated in what even (these are categorized by “attendee,” “teacher/speaker,” “moderator,” etc.

PROBLEMS: Since we upgraded to drupal, the dates don’t function properly in the offline database, making it largely dysfunctional – we have imported the pre-drupal events into drupal however so this part of the data would need to be imported from our current drupal database, We are not really updating the registration info due to the fact that a lot of registration is now done online and that info goes into a paypal database but is not integrated into our system


We have email records in our database and so it is linked to a lot of information about the relationship with the person, but our weekly email announcements go out of mailman which has no identifying info on the people. We started the mailman list with emails from the database but since then they have come from other sources such as the form on our website. Our weekly announcements are sent through a newsletter module that has the capacity to add subscribers, but currently the mailman lists are the only subscribers.


First phase (just the most urgently needed stuff):

  1. Upgrade to drupal 6 (if that is indeed the best way to go).
  2. Import contacts -- just the fields from our filemaker db that are needed for civicrm's contact db. It looks like that could be done relatively easily using civicrm's import function. We would also need to bring in the payments data from our filemaker setup. Our db has 18 tables at this point, but I think we could bring the rest over more gradually.
  3. Redo the donation and subscription pages using civicrm.

Second stage (I don't know what order makes sense):

  1. Bring the rest of filemaker tables into civicrm.
  2. Bring the drupal events table into civicrm and rework the website to display from that info.
  3. Set up filemaker as a frontend (if possible) at this point I can see the files but cannot edit them.
  4. Consolidate our email info (now in our db, mailman and evite) and set up that area.

Third phase (expanded capacity):

  1. Find someone who knows how to integrate paypal with quickbooks.
  2. Develop much more elaborate online fundraising campaigns
  3. Develop targeted outreach capacity
  4. Online store??

Some areas that may need custom attention:

  1. Sliding scale fees for events: In our current setup, Alfredo designed a way for people registering for events to choose the amount they would pay with a minimum that is required. For example, the typical price for forums is Sliding scale: $6/$10/$15 and free for Brecht Forum Subscribers. What we have now is that the event entry form has a field for a minimum amount ($6)and the event display has a form for the person to enter the number of people attending and the amount they want to pay. It will not be accepted if it is less than $6. We had planned to have some way to lookup and register subscribers when they don't have to pay, but have not gotten that feature yet. In CiviCRM, we should be able to easily track subscribers and it would be good to have this feature too.

Some Questions

Q. I’m assuming that civicrm would be simply another feature of our website, among others and be themed, for example: Could the events be displayed just as they are on our current site?

  1. Yes. CiviCRM is a Drupal module and works very nicely with Drupal, allowing you to publish things from your database to your web site using your existing theme.

Q. The documentation says that the civicvent component is good for groups that have one or two big events per year. I don’t see why it wouldn’t be good for many events – like we have—but then why would they say that?

  1. I'm not sure why the documentation says that. I have some ideas though. The events module is pretty heavy duty. It does a lot of stuff, and can be over kill for most small events. On the other hand, I the user interface for setting up events is well written. Although it does take you through five screens, most of the defaults are very sane. So - I think you could effectively use it for Brecht Events.

Q. Subscribers make monthly or quarterly donations. Both paypal and our other merchant service provider allow for recurring payments to be charged automatically—I understand that paypal even send out notices to donors when a card expires and helps them update the record. How does civicrm deal with recording recurring payments? It appears to me that that page would have to be customized somehow to function the way we do.

  1. Not sure. Anyone else? I would be surprised if CiviCRM didn't have similar functionality.

Q. Re LOGIN: As I remember, one barrier to going with civicrm when we first switched to drupal was that it appeared that everyone had to log in to the site. It appears from the documentation now that people can contribute and register for events without having to login first, but how does that work if they are already a contact? Will they have to enter address details each time they register or donate?

  1. Not sure here either. Although I do know that CiviCRM has good import/export features between contacts and Drupal users. With Paper Tiger, I've setup the ubercart module for purchasing videos (since CiviCRM doesn't have a merchandise capability). Everything works very smoothly. Anonymous users who make purchases are (behind the scenes) given Drupal accounts (if they choose an email address that already exists, they get an error message and have to either use a different email or login to their existing account). CiviCRM automatically imports these new users and displays the items they have purchased. We're still working out the kinks, but over all it's going quite nicely.

Q. Filemaker has a “manage database” feature that makes it easy to see the database structure, tables, fields, relationships, etc. -- is this possible in civicrm?? Would it be possible, once data is all in one system, to use filemaker as a front end for the contact info as we use it now? The only areas that would be “public” on the site would be events and pages for online donations and subscriptions,

  1. Have you ever used phpMyAdmin? That is a web-based tool for looking at the database structure. As for accessing your data from a FileMaker front-end, I believe that is possible. MySQL has a well supported and free ODBC driver. I think Filemaker can talk ODBC.
Last modified 13 years ago Last modified on Jan 10, 2009, 6:45:29 AM