Community software

Yeah I am not talking about software to make virtual communities but software for existing physical communities.

I belong to a synagogue in Massachussetts. We have over 1500 people in the community. We have some interesting problems.

  1. If you meet someone at a class or party and you get their first name and the event ends you go home. If a couple weeks later you would like to contact Joel again … well that is a tough one. You can send an email to the person leading the event if it was a small one and ask to get into contact with Joel. Hopefully there is only one Joel otherwise it is like the game of pictionary trying to guess if we are talking about the same person. I could really use a temple private “facebook” of sorts.
  2. I started up an online class and wanted to invite interested people. This is an interesting process of talking to the people who know everyone like the rabbi and trying to figure out who is interested. Then we need to contact the keeper of the email lists to see if she can email them to me. Come to find out she (the admin) does not have all the lists. Some other members have their own and they are more protective of those. I could really use a “Constant Contact” for internal mailings.
  3. The office spends alot of time managing the email lists. Who should be on what list and with what email address? Keeping all the personal info uptodate is a challenge. The office could really use a Customer Relationship Management system that is managed by the members like “facebook on steroids”.
  4. Since this is a community it would be great to get everyones oral history so that people could connect with others like them. We need a “journal” to help us with this.

Does this exist? Is this all wrapped into one. This seems like something that many organizations would find useful.


  1. That is an interesting dilemma. I think that it will take some effort on your part to find the exact system that will work for you. According to Wikipedia, here are the top free and open source CRM systems:
    OpenERP – java
    Compiere – java
    Adempiere – java
    Openbravo – java
    Ofbiz – java
    Vtiger_CRM – php
    SugarCRM – php
    CiviCRM – php
    Opentaps – java
    XLsuite – ruby (RubyOnRails) – full stack CRM and ERP system

    See if one of those will work. I’d be interested in your solution when you find something.

    1. It is an interesting problem. I am not sure that I would start at the CRM. I am pondering the problem. The more I wrestle with in the more I want to say that the center of the world is the members and the their services. I am thinking I need to go down the list of community software apps too. I have seen a couple that have been implemented for small communities like this in interesting ways.

      I think whatever approach I take it has to be simple and straight forward since there is no paid staff. And if I move along I cannot leave them hanging.

      The other question is, does this exist across all non-profit communities? Does the church or YMCA down the road also have all these problems to solve? Maybe this is a product or service? If I do it once can I repeat it for everyone else? Hmmm?

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