What is CiviCRM?

CRM Defined

CRM is an acronym for Contact Relationship Management – a system that keeps track of contact information like an address book.

CiviCRM is a powerful, web-based CRM system that allows organizations to record and manage information about, and interactions with, the people and organizations that comprise their constituency.

What is a database?

A database is essentially a storage container for information. The simplest example of a database is your address book.

CiviCRM, like your address book, stores contact information, however it's so much more because it also stores information about your events, fund-raising campaigns, members, and email campaigns.

What is a record?

A record is all the information about a given item in a database.
In your address book, all the information about your friends, John and Jane Doe – their name, street address, city, state, postal code, country, phone, fax, and email address – make up their record.

In CiviCRM, this might be all the information about a contact, an event, a contribution, a member, or a mailing.

What is a field?

A field represents each individual piece of information contained in a record about a given item in a database.
In your address book, your contact's first name is a field, as is last name, street address, city, state, and postal code, etc.

In CiviCRM, there are built-in fields for each area of activity. But these are only starting points. With CiviCRM, a great deal of flexibility is given to you through custom data fields. A custom data field is a field created by you for information that is specific to the way you run your organization.

CiviCRM Modules

As stated earlier, CiviCRM is like your address book – it's where you manage all your contacts whether they are donors, volunteers, board members, students, or staff.

In addition to managing your contacts, CiviCRM gives you the ability to manage many of the routine activities of running a non-profit. These activities are handled inside of CiviCRM by several components – called “modules” - that come as part of the CiviCRM system.

Those modules are:

Use to manage online fund-raising efforts and donors.
A part of CiviContribute, use to allow donors to pledge to contribute over time.
Use to manage members and online membership sign-up.
Use to manage personalized email blasts and newsletters.
Use to manage online event registration and participant tracking.
Use to generate reports and manage report templates.
Use to manage grants to and from Organizations, Individuals, or Households.
Use to track and manage interactions between your organization and your constituents.
CiviEngage (V. 3.2)
A drupal module that enhances CiviCRM's core functions for non-profits focused on community organizing and civic engagement work.


GingerFeet delivers CiviCRM with the following modules enabled: CiviContribute, CiviMember, CiviMail, CiviEvent, CiviReport and CiviPledge. To enable CiviCase and CiviGrant navigate to: Administer → Configure → Global Settings → Enabled CiviCRM Components.