How does CiviCRM match up to Salesforce.com?
Submitted by rczamor on Sat, 03/14/2009 - 00:42
I just read a very thought provoking post on Zen and the Art of Nonprofit Technology comparing Salesforce and CiviCRM. This has been something heavy on my mind as I think of solutions that will work best for our clients to work with. All too often I speak to clients or meet nonprofit staff at conferences/sessions that are unhappy with their CRM systems. The most common solutions I hear people looking to are Salesforce and CiviCRM.
The Zen posts does a great job of summing up the two CRM systems:
It's pretty interesting to compare them. The [Salesforce] nonprofit template has certainly helped to make it easier for nonprofits to do the brain surgery required to use a for-profit sales tool for nonprofit CRM purposes. Salesforce.com is, of course, much more sleek and polished. And the power behind the application is pretty unassailable. And, there is a huge ecosystem of add-ons available for Salesforce.com that doesn't exist yet for CiviCRM. But there are significant modifications, both in the way nonprofits think about data, as well as the way data is manipulated, that have to take place in order for organizations to use Salesforce.com. CiviCRM is really intuitive for organizations to use out of the box.
Donation pages, and event registration are built in to CiviCRM, but have to be added into Salesforce.com. It's way easier to create relationships in CiviCRM - you can create any kinds of relationships you want. Can create groups and smart groups easily in CiviCRM. This is harder in Salesforce.com, and smart groups don't exist in Salesforce.com.
This post made me think of a Salesforce implementation I did for a client back in 2007. This was a startup organization looking to develop a website that would allow them to launch co-branded microsites for all their student chapters. We decided to go with Salesforce because the organization operated like a small business - they ran small stores on college campuses around the country selling food and apparel to raise money to end world hunger. The organization wanted a robust system that allowed them to track sales and marketing campaigns as well as run custom reports on product sales.
Salesforce met the clients needs to a T on the sales side, but we ran into issues when implementing standard fundraising functionality. There was no way to create fundraising pages using Salesforce without building out from Paypal in SF. We also found the email blast tools to be lacking at the time and went with a third party plugin. The donation tracking was okay, but lacked the flexibility to model data collection to the organization's unique fundraising strategy. Some compromises were made to say the least.
CiviCRM does offer many features that are of great value to nonprofits which I feel are not considered when people look at the software:
- Custom profiles - Users can configure custom forms using CiviCRM data fields in any configuration needed. This gives an organization extreme flexibility in what information they gather from constituents and can be used to build registration forms and program applications.
- Custom fields - Users can set up an unlimited number of custom data fields to allow you to collect data beyond fields on the standard constituent record. The latest version of CiviCRM will allow users to write custom code to trigger actions, calculations, etc. within these fields.
- CRM integration - Out of the box CiviCRM comes with integration with Drupal and Joomla. This can save organization's a lot on development costs from custom integration with Salesforce and other CRM systems.
- Geocoding/Mapping - CiviCRM has native integration with the Google or Yahoo! Maps API to geocode all contacts as they are created. You can then map any custom search within the system. This is very useful when building geosearch tools or mapping applications which plot CiviCRM data.
- Task Management - You are able to create tasks that need to be completed and assign them to yourself or another staff member. That person's tasks appear on their dashboard like a task list.
The Zen post sparked an interesting conversation about peoples' perceptions of Salesforce versus CiviCRM on the CiviCRM forums. Come join in the conversation.