Think outside the box with CiviCRM: Innovative idea #1 - Use the membership module to manage sponsor/student relationship

For unique organizational needs, there are often innovative ways to use CiviCRM!

This is an example of how you can use the membership module of CiviCRM called "CiviMember," for managing sponsorships for students seeking continuing education rather than the traditional use for managing memberships! Our example features and organization whose major need was to track the relationship and the financial support between the individual sponsor and the sponsored students. 

First, we created a membership type for each study level and a custom field of type Contact Reference used for the membership.

Then, we configured a membership page so a new sponsor can apply online to sponsor a student for a year of study. Once the data is submitted, this automatically creates a membership for the individual sponsor.

From here, the organization staff then assigns a student who needs a sponsor to the “new member” by adding the student contact reference to the membership. But the relationship between sponsor and student still needs to be created. So in order to avoid manual work and inconsistency data we developed a simple script that automatically creates the relationship betwen the sponsor and the student based on the membership dates and the contact reference of the student attached to that membership.

To ensure that students continue to receive financial support annually from each sponsor, they need to automate the "sponsorship" online renewal process.
Email reminders with a personal link to the "membership" page sent to sponsors have been setup using the feature "Scheduled Reminders".  

With CiviCRM, the organization is now able to:

  • Accept new sponsorships online
  • Share information with the sponsor about the sponsored students
  • Track students in need of financial support

The next step will be to develop a member portal integrated in the organization’s website so sponsors can login, view the list of their current "memberships" and the corresponding sponsored child, and renew these memberships individually.

As CiviCRM is highly customizable, it's amazing how much can be done to configure CiviCRM to meet your needs without necessarely a lot of programming!