On May 24th and 25th, the Wikimedia Foundation hosted a CiviCRM coding sprint in our San Francisco office. CiviCRM is the premier open source constituent relationship manager; WMF uses it to store donor and contribution information. Our CiviCRM database contains more than a million contact records and a million contribution records.

CiviCRM, The Free and Open Source Solution for the Civic Sector

CiviCRM, The Free and Open Source Solution for the Civic Sector

The sprint was a terrific success. The eight participants squashed many CiviCRM bugs — and the Foundation directly benefited, as they improved CiviCRM contact/contribution search performance by 15 to 25 times! Formerly, it could take more than two minutes for someone to search among the contribution records. The developers’ tweaks, hacks and patches whittled that down to about 4-6 seconds per search. This will save innumerable hours for WMF administrators and fundraisers.

The Foundation’s Arthur Richards, a fundraising engineer, enthused: “Any software tool, open source or not, comes with headaches; the beauty of tools like CiviCRM is that we can solve our own problems. Thanks to having some great hackers in one place, we managed to mitigate one of our biggest CiviCRM pain points in a matter of hours.”

You can read more details about the sprint on Donald Lobo’s CiviCRM blog.

Richards was especially excited to “highlight how awesome it is working with other open source projects and using other open source tools. We get to scratch each other’s backs, which helps support a sustainable, healthy ecosystem of software/communities. Also, using open source tools like CiviCRM – while not without their (often big) pain points – is great because we can fix the software ourselves. While the tools are free to use, with a little bit of elbow grease and some resources, they can be molded and fixed to meet our needs much easier (and likely much cheaper) than relying on proprietary tools. Plus, the CiviCRM community has been instrumental in helping us troubleshoot, solve problems and add new features to meet our usage requirements.”

The CiviCRM community is planning to run another code sprint in the fall in Northern California; please contact them if you’d like to participate or even host it. In the meantime, Wikimedia and thousands of other nonprofits will enjoy the CiviCRM improvements developed in May.

-Sumana Harihareswara
Volunteer Development Coordinator, Wikimedia Foundation