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Feedback on this document, e.g. things that are missing, not very well explained, confusing lanuage, etc., is very welcome.


CiviCRM relies on the contributions of it's user and service provider ecosystem.  These contributions come in many different forms, including:

  • technical contributions (e.g. patches, extensions, bug reports)
  • community contributions (e.g. organising a meet up, evangelising about CiviCRM etc)
  • financial contributions (e.g. make it happen, sponsoring a conference)

In other words, financial contributions are only a part of the what makes CiviCRM work, but they are an important part none the less.

This page concentrates on the different ways in which we can increase our financial contributions, why we need to do so, and what we will spend this money on. You can find an overview of other ways that you can support the project on our community page.

Core funding

An amazing amount of CiviCRM as a product (code improvements and extensions, etc.) and all the associated services (e.g. training, hosting) come directly from the community, and that % is increasing all the time.  The speed at which we develop is proportional to the number of contributors and the amount they are contributing, and so the more people we can get making more contributions, the better we become.

At the same time, as with any open project, there are some core 'keeping the lights on' activities that need to happen.  We need to ensure that the release cycle is steady and solid, that our servers and infrastructure are looked after, that people with good ideas can find each other, and we need to do all those things that everyone agrees are great ideas but no-one can quite get around to finding the time to do!  Without a well oiled machine at the heart of CiviCRM, we wouldn't be able to put people's contributions to best use.

Wikipedia is a useful analogy here.  Wikipedia is an amazing resource because of all of the contributions made by various wikipedians, but without a server infrastructure to run everything on, there would be no Wikipedia.

TODO: put some figures on how much it costs to run core CiviCRM.

Project / restricted funding

CiviCRM has typically been a big fan of project funding, i.e. funding directed towards a certain peice of functionality or to acheive a certain goal.  Make it happen is a good example of this approach.  Part of the reason for this is that it allows people to 'scratch their own itch'.  It is: it's easy to say "feature X is crucial for my organisation".  It's a bit harder to say "Here is $10k to fund the development of feature X".  In this way, 'putting your money where you mouth' is a very ' do-ocratic way to run an open source project.

Full cost recovery

Although we really like project / restricted funding on the assumption that if someone is willing to pay for it, it must be useful, at the same time, as mentioned above, we do need to unrestricted income to keep the lights on.

As such we might look at adding a percentage on to any project funding (whether that be a major sponsorship in a specific area, a make it happen happen project or another agreed piece of work that is assigned as core funding.

Ways to generate income

There are a few different pathways that people are currently contributing financially to CiviCRM.  We should more clearly define these pathways and better 'pitch' them, i.e. better explain the benefits, reasons, etc.  We should also do a better job of recognising the people that are contributing through these methods.

The four methods of raising income (which are described in more detail below) are

  • Major sponsors
  • Make it happen campaigns
  • Service provider association
  • Supporters

Major sponsors

There are currently a few organisations that have an ongoing commitment to supporting the project financially, for example the New York State Senate and Zing. We should better pitch to these major sponsors and aim to have between 5 and 7 of these sponsors at any one time.

We should make a big deal out of them on our website, and tell the story behind these organisations sponsorship and why they wanted to collaborate.

  • NYSS: the performance and scalability sponsor.  Tell the story of why the senate funds CiviCRM.  i.e. Senat has a v. large DB.  Also had budget and resources to sponsor scalability and have these contributed to core on ongoing basis to ensure they can stay on upgrade path.
  • Zing: Fund NFPs and want to help them make good technology choices.  Found CiviCRM and realised that any money they spent funding CiviCRM would be multiplied by the CiviCRM user base, i.e. more effective that funding individual organisations.  Also want to develop HR app and are doing this in collaboration with CiviCRM (CiviHR)
  • Also worthwhile highlight other / past major sponsors like PHP and PTP

Here is a good example of telling the sponsorship story and something that we could do more of:

Make it happen

Make it happen is a pretty good way of getting project funding, but it is probably worth reviewing and seeing how we can improve the process, improve the number of successful MIH, etc.

We might want to better recognise those people that contribute to make it happen with a "I made it happen" badge / made it happen hall of fame, which is potentially related to each release.

Similarly to major sponsors we might wish to think about how we price MIH campaigns and is we are including budget for things documentation, core costs, etc. (where appropriate)

TODO: insert financials of MIH here.

Service provider association

We currently promote service providers that have provided at least two case studies on our experts page.

Our plan is to develop this page by providing more prominent listings for service providers that pay an annual subscription to be members of the CiviCRM Professional Service Providers association. They also get a badge to put on their website and we think up a few other perks to make it attractive.

In doing so, we don't want to marginalise the efforts of organisations that are contributing in other ways.  Service providers that are "awesome organisations" (might want to think of a better name) will also are promoted with a reason for their being awesome (maybe because they have a business model that sustains CiviCRM in some way).  This will likely for a time limited period

Being a member of the service provider association will not confer any rights on setting the direction of the project since we would want to maintain CiviCRM as a meritocracy / doocracy where decisions are made based on level of participation rather than financial contributions.

We'll also allow service providers to be listed by country.

We expect that the largest service provider organisations may wish to become major sponsors.

At some point, we might want to think about accrediting individuals at service providers and requiring service providers to have accredited individuals on their staff.

There are 55 orgs in  If half of these people contributed $1000, we'd generate $30k.  After a couple of years that might increase to $100,000


Marketed at end users and also anyone else that wants to support CIviCRM.  We'd have a suggested donation of $10 per month / $120 per year.

We can also suggest that people who do CiviCRM hosting add at extra $10 onto their hosting costs per month which goes back to CiviCRM.

We can integrate an ask into the software somehow, e.g. in the CiviCRM news dashlet.

Note: is a crowd funded open source game by the guy that did wing commander.  They raised nearly $8M which I realised is a bit out of our league! but I suspect there are some valuable lessons there in how they approached it, etc,

If we got 200 organisations donating $200 per year, that works out at at $40k.  After a couple of years that might increase to $120k.


  • None
  1. Mar 07, 2013

    comments on a hosting provider listing (not quite the same as service providers)


      I think this makes good sense. Drupal uses this model--they have
        levels of hosts they display on their site, some paid and then
        the little ads for non-paying hosts. Giving hosts a listing on <> along with a CiviCon sponsorship
        I think is a very good incentive.

        Drupal of course also screens all their hosts, including the free
        listings. There have been many discussions
        <> about the fairness of
        their screening and the difficulty in passing all of their tests.
        WordPress lists a very few hosts and then they link each host's
        listing to forum threads showing feedback on that host. I presume
        WordPress screened those four hosts.  

        I would definitely think that CiviCRM would need screen hosts
        listed because (as we all know) it's not easy to host. Also if a
        host is listed then certainly anyone visiting that page will
        presume that CiviCRM will run and run well on that host.

        So that's what I think: Screen 'em and make 'em pay.  


    I definitely think that Hosting Providers should be separate from
    Service Providers. Regarding the form, to adapt this for
    hosts I would say:

     1. Perhaps remove "CiviCRM Services" field.
     2. Remove "Client Sectors" field.

    Add fields for:

     1. Hosting Type: Checkboxes could be *Shared*, *VPS*, *Dedicated* and
        perhaps *SAAS* or *PAAS* (Platform as a Service)
     2. Installation Service: *Yes/No* perhaps, or a text box where they
        could put "Yes, at no charge" or "For a mere $20"
     3. Upgrade Service: text box where they could put "No, we can't
        update CiviCRM for you" or "Upgrade service available for a small fee"

    Other questions I get which may be candidates for fields are if we
    support CiviMail and do we allow access to the web files to allow the
    client to customize his site and which CMS's we can host.

    We could also automatically generate a link to all forum posts
    mentioning the host, for example:

    and display that with each listing. WordPress does something similar: but a bit more sophisticated.

    Then there are other questions that people ask that I suppose we
    should let each host address in his blurb, such as if they provide
    migration services, ssh access, ftp access, backup service, what is
    the support level for hosting and for CIviCRM-specific issues, domain
    registration, SSL sales and support, DNS service, PHP and MySQL
    versions, email etc.

    Case studies make sense as an indication that the host really can host

    All the above is comes to mind now anyhow on this subject.


    Dave M

    I think the paid for hosting / prof services listings is a good general idea although you probably can't charge too much to start with. I think the principle should be if you're making money out of Civi, you should feed some back. So even if this only generates a couple of $k, every little helps and if you develop a few streams like that, it all starts to mount up.
    I agree with Hershel's comments about the wiki page being random and think the idea of a moderated page is much better. I'd also be keen to keep the distinction between active contributors and others as I think someone who's really engaging with the project should have a better idea of Civi and be able to provide better service than a generic web host who can do an initial install of any CMS/CRM. I also think that encourages more people to actively engage and collaborate. Splitting up the listings would be helpful for end users + potentially allows you to charge us 3 times for 3 entries ;)

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