Membership Management and Joomla Community Builder
June 29, 2010 10:55 PM   Subscribe

I've been asked to investigate Joomla Community Builder for use by a community circus I'm a part of to manage their membership. Based on their needs and abilities, is it worth using, or are we better off with other less complicated solutions?

I'm a member of a community women's circus here in Brisbane, and they are trying to systemise as much of their processes as possible so that they can more effectively deliver their programs and not overwork the already burdened staff members (small staff often doing more than their job description). One of their priorities is to make a lot more stuff Web-based and to update their web presence, and they've asked me for help.

According to them, they have Joomla Community Builder set up (but not customer-facing) and would like to know how to best utilise it. I have experience with Joomla as a CMS, not so much a community manager, but I have used other CMSes and community managers too. What I'm concerned about is that something like Community Builder may be overkill, especially if the membership part of the site is mainly going to be managed by either an overworked staff member with not as much Web savviness or a volunteer.

This is what they want to do online:

* Take in class bookings and payments - currently they do this over the phone which eats up a lot of time
* Manage their membership - work out who has paid for membership, when their membership fees are due, use the system to send out newsletters rather than paying a 3rd party email newsletter system
* Work out what sort of skills/networks members and volunteers have so that if they need someone with a specific skill they can look them up and get contact details
* Organise bookings for trainers for classes, events, workshops, etc
* Allow members and students to update their details online

Somewhere down the line there's meant to be an updated website with better information and a historical timeline (to document the history of women's circus), but that's down the track and more a CMS issue rather than a membership/community issue.

* The circus offers both full and concession prices for their classes, as well as the occasional discount and a way to pay for classes using volunteer hours as credit. This needs to be easily programmed & calculated.
* They also take in payments via credit card, bank transfer (Australia), or cash - is there a way to manage this without too much financial pain?
* The person who will end up managing their membership site (likely me but it could pass on) isn't necessarily going to be very coding-savvy - I myself find CMSes and community builder sites somewhat intuitive, having been online since 1995, but I'm an outlier in this case
* There are details of members, trainers, and students but they're not necessarily well-organised - collecting them into a workable database could take some time. Time's fine, but I don't want the process to be a huge hassle
* So far social networking between the members via the site isn't a priority, but it would be good to have a News/Blog and an Events/Dates section
* There should be a way to class people by type of involvement

Ideally once the hard yard of the site setup & database filling is done, it gets easier to run and you don't need too much tech expertise to get basic things done.

Would Joomla Community Builder be OK for this? what do I need to know about the program? Is it easy to use it as a base for building the site overall (with more content)? Is it easy to train someone in using it? What else would you recommend?
posted by divabat to Computers & Internet (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I haven't spent a lot of time with Community Builder, but you can add CiviCRM to Joomla! or Drupal and do all the things you've asked for. It's free and works fairly well. It's also a very active project and the upgrades have been great.
posted by advicepig at 6:38 AM on June 30, 2010

I agree with divabat.
Also, when choosing a platform, it's often best to look at what plug-ins/add-ons are available and make your decision based on that, especialy if you want to minimize the amount of hand coding.
posted by Ignorance at 9:31 AM on July 1, 2010

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