CiviCRM and Drupal Diary – Prologue


This multi-part story is presented for those parties that are contemplating using CiviCRM with Drupal for an online project. The information provided will apply particularly well if you are looking to utilize CiviCRM for running an association or membership group.


It all starts with an idea…

We were approached by a client to build a membership website for their constituents to utilize and assist in marketing the association, to attract new members, and ease the administrative burdens on the association staff. Our team has many years of experience with membership and association websites and this was the primary reason we were chosen for the project. After reviewing the requirements, we quickly realized that the systems we had used in past projects were not going to be adequate for this one without heavy customization and custom coding. After much deliberation, research, discussion and testing we decided that CiviCRM running on Drupal would be our best approach. What follows is the story of our process and our project.


We will be presenting this project diary in a weekly format. We will discuss decisions that were made and the reasons they were chosen as well as what worked well and what could have been done differently. We are starting this diary several weeks into the project so at this moment we have not yet launched (but the end is in sight) and we are well on our way with plenty of notes and lots of juicy information which should help anyone who is contemplating using CiviCRM and Drupal for their project. Topics will include:

  • Project Conception & Requirements
  • Software Evaluation
  • Project planning
  • Installation and setup of Drupal/CiviCRM
  • Importing data into CiviCRM from existing systems
  • Mapping database fields to CiviCRM and Drupal
  • How to address membership
  • Working with custom hooks
  • Creating a registration & renewal form
  • Creating a membership directory with photos
  • Theming your CiviCRM and Drupal website
  • And more…

One of the big items to note is that CiviCRM is an extremely robust application and provides a complete solution for organizations that are specifically looking to do online fund raising. Our particular project does not require these features since the association we are working with is a membership group and will mostly be collecting payments online for dues and special events.

However the membership management is so powerful and provides so many options that we could not pass up CiviCRM as our choice for this project. While we were concerned about the complexity and added clutter of features that were not needed, the benefits of what was built into the system far out weighed the negatives of having an overly complex back-end for the administrative users. One of our challenges is simplifying this experience for the site’s administrators.

We thank the Drupal and CiviCRM communities for their ongoing support and if you are new to CiviCRM be sure to check out the online book: Understanding CiviCRM

Read more in our next article:
Week 1 – Conception, Requirements and Software Evaluation

Categorized in: ,

Published On: Jan 30, 2010