Charities Urged To Dump Closed CRM And Windows

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Migrating away from proprietary CRM platforms could allow charities to finally abandon Windows completely, says FSF

The Free Software Foundation is calling on charities and other not-for-profit organisations to free themselves from reliance on proprietary CRM technology and Microsoft Windows.

According to a statement from the FSF released this week, charities and other organisations should investigate an open source, web-based platform called CiviCRM. The organisation said it is adopting the technology for its own internal use and is encouraging other organisations to do likewise.

Targeting nonprofit organisations

CiviCRM is an open source, web-based system – similar to hosted CRM applications from proprietary players such as Salesforce.com – but rather than being commercially focused, allows charities and not-for-profits to manage donors, fundraisers and volunteers.

“The features now offered by CiviCRM will satisfy nonprofits seeking to organise their relationships with donors, supporters, and the media. In addition to storing contact information, it handles online fundraising, event registration, membership management, and personalised paper and electronic mailings,” said FSF’s operations manager John Sullivan.

No lock-in

According to FSF, not for profits have traditionally faced lock-in and high migration costs with other proprietary CRM platforms. But by using CiviCRM, organisations not only have more freedom but can also do away with other proprietary platforms required to support CRM systems, such as Microsoft Windows. “Since the code and the data format are freely available, using the system does not mean being locked into it. Because it runs on the free GNU/Linux operating system, it eliminates the need for another frequent nonprofit proprietary software dependency – Microsoft Windows,” FSF states.

FSF said that adopting CiviCRM means the organisation can achieve its goal of using only open source applications and platforms. “A general purpose donor and contact management system will be the final piece of the puzzle for charitable organisations looking to operate using only free software. We plan to publish a guide offering our experiences as a resource for other nonprofits concerned with the social implications of their technology,” said executive director Peter Brown.

The software is used by organisations including open content specialist Creative Commons. “CiviCRM is a critical part of Creative Commons’ infrastructure. We’ve seen the application mature and steadily improve with new features and performance improvements coming in every release, ” said Nathan Yergler, chief technology officer at Creative Commons.”


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