The MFPL/Progressive Technology Project CRM review

The Progressive Technology Project is working with approximately 7-10 organizations who are interested in developing more effective database software for managing their organizing activities. We are specifically working with grassroots community organizing groups.

For the purposes of this project, grassroots “community organizing” is meant as the set of practices employed by groups who seek to change the power relationships that their members live within, with the goal of a more equal sharing of power and a voice in the policies and institutions that impact their lives. Community organizing is geographic in nature, and concerns itself not with abstract identity groups spread across wide areas, but rather with people residing in specific geographic communities. Community organizing groups are led by their members, and work with not for the membership. As a result, these groups place a large degree of emphasis on working to build leadership skills of members so that they can more effectively run the organization itself as well as work to gain control of/exercise their power through institutions in their communities.

A discussion of the project is happening in ticket #1062.


The CRM review project will be a collaboration between May First/People Link and PTP with the following goals:

  • Better understand the database needs of grassroots organizing groups
  • Better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the existing free software vis-a-vis these particular needs
  • Provide direction for grassroots groups in evaluating their database options


By the end of the project we would like to have:

  • Public documentation of our experiences, discussions and conclusions
  • Experience using demo versions of the software under consideration
  • A sense of which of the existing software packages would best meet the needs of the groups PTP is working with
  • A detailed proposal for changes that would need to be applied to the best candidate, how long it would take to implement those changes (and cost), and strategies for how to accomplish the work

While Jamie (MFPL) will take the lead role and put in the main hours on the project, he will be working very closely with a defined PTP group that will provide timely feedback and direction. All discussion will happen in public forums (preferably as a ticket on All documents will also be published via a wiki that can track changes (also, preferably on

Needs and Use Cases

This project will not identify the One True Database. Instead, it is designed to find a free database the most closely meets the needs of grassroots organizing groups in the United States. We've specifically identified a a limited lists of features that we will be using in our evaluation. Based on these needs, we've developed a number of use cases.

Projects under consideration

During this project, we considered:


We have initial reactions during the installation of our three choices. After this phase, we decided to focus exclusively on CiviCRM. We then developed use cases and how CiviCRM works for those use cases and finally a report on what we plan to do with this project.

Proposed/Initial Timeline

  • Deadline: June 13
    • Create the team and come to agreement on goals of the project by modifying this proposal until everyone is in agreement with it.
    • Create first draft of features that we will be looking at
    • Agree on an initial short list of software packages to consider
  • Deadline: June 27
    • Incorporate feedback from groups about features (PTP responsibility)
    • Have running demo versions of all packages under consideration installed with logins available to project participants
    • Have preliminary evaluations based on agreed upon features
    • Next group conference call scheduled
  • Deadline: Date of conference call (mid July)
    • Most features have been reviewed for each software package chosen
    • Mid-project evaluation: next steps are determined, final deadline re-evaluated.
  • Deadline: August 1


Jamie would work approximately 40 hours/week on the project and would be compensated $3,000.

Last modified 13 years ago Last modified on Oct 23, 2008, 11:49:21 AM