National Hispanic Voter Educational Foundation

Putting CiviCRM to the test: Managing a database of 600,000 contacts

The National Hispanic Voter Educational Foundation (NHVEF) was created to encourage, inform and enable individuals in the Hispanic community to appreciate the importance of voting and to consistently exercise this privilege. This non-partisan foundation is dedicated to helping individuals find their voice in order to make a positive impact on themselves, their family and the community. NHVEF also manages a call center to reach out to the Hispanic community and engage them in this goal through a voter pledge.

Cividesk recently spoke with Nikki Swarn of the NHVEF about their experiences with CiviCRM.

What were you using before CiviCRM?
We were using a system called Jot Form, but it didn’t allow for searches or segmenting the data into groups. Jot Form was a good way to capture information on the backend and fairly easy to use, but it couldn’t do data recall and we needed to be able to segment our data. Our organization is growing rapidly and we needed a system that would allow us to grow our data and be able to effectively manage our large number of contacts. We had heard about CiviCRM through another organization, had downloaded it from the open source site, but were not using it. I had some experience using other databases in my prior employment, so I spent some time looking over CiviCRM and was pleased with the results. I was convinced it would fit the needs of our organization and I had a good idea about how we can make it work for NHVEF.

Which functionalities do you use the most?
Our greatest need at NHVEF is to segment our database by categories such as districts, age and party affiliation. We use advanced searches for many types of queries and smart groups to organize our data. We plan on using CiviMail and CiviEvent soon as we grow our foundation and we begin hosting events. We also plan on using CiviCRM for conducting surveys of our contacts.

Why did you choose to work with Cividesk?
We wanted to make sure the configuration was done correctly, and knew it would be time consuming to do the import and cumbersome since we have so many contacts. We currently have about 635,000 contact records including 50,000 members, so we felt we needed someone to help us manage it. We liked that Cividesk was local to Colorado and that we could meet with them in person for the implementation and training sessions.

How was the implementation and training provided by Cividesk?
As one can imagine, cataloguing, structuring, and organizing data from multiple sources and then mapping it to a single source file is a difficult task, but even more so when moving a database of over 600,000 contacts. It was a big undertaking for National Hispanic Voter Educational Foundation as well as for Cividesk. There was consistent attention given during the export and Cividesk was responsive to our needs. We also required some additional customization of our database. We wanted to create a household record for people that shared the same address. Once again Cividesk stepped up to the challenge and provided us with seamless integration of household contact records for our database, thus allowing us to be more effective in our phone bank activities and increasing the number of Foundation pledges.
Cividesk also provided excellent training for both our staff and the call center employees. With a database as large as ours, searching for specific members could take some time. Yet, Cividesk was able to optimize the search function to reduce lag time and return a more precise number of matches. Again the overall effects were instrumental in the success rates of NHVEF’s call center and the overall increase in membership. We really put Cividesk to the task and they rose to the occasion.

What are the benefits of CiviCRM for your organization?
We are more efficient now and spend less time on infrastructure and more time doing the work of the organization. Our call center uses a dialer program called 59 in conjunction with CiviCRM. The call center staff inputs information such as email addresses and verifies the data that is in CiviCRM, as well as recording the voter pledge of an individual. The use of CiviCRM has made the call center more efficient.

CiviCRM is pretty straight forward and simple to use. I appreciate having all of our data categorized and organized on the same contact screen; that type of organization makes you nimble. Even with a database as large as ours, the response time is fast. CiviCRM allows you to do many things with one tool, so the cost savings is definitely there and open source software is great, since you don’t have to pay to upgrade or add additional components.

We wanted to make it as easy as possible for our organization to function in this fast paced world. To be a successful non-profit you need to strike a fine balance between the work of your organization and managing the infrastructure; CiviCRM helps us do that.