Team Management / Email / CRM Software

We struggled last year with team communication, parent communications, event/trip management and taking payments; most through Google Docs. So this year we would like to head some of that off by looking at software to help us manage the team a little better. I have conducted an initial research on Google and have come up with subscription software like Wild Apricot and Memberclicks. These seem to be costly in the long run. I also had CIVICCRM and SugarCRM suggested.
I would love to hear from other teams about what you use and best practices your teams have put in place to systematically manage the team, email lists, meetings events, etc.


Mark Smith
KleinBOTs 3735

The Power Hawks use a mix of Google Drive and MailChimp.
We use Google Drive to all of our documents, especially using Google Forms for students to fill out for pretty much any event we do. That way we have signups already in a spreadsheet which we can link to others to track payment, paperwork, etc.
We then use to manage our team emails. It allows us to maintain a list of every email we’ve ever sent, see who has opened emails and even who clicks on links. We can also use it to manage alumni and community email lists, plus it allows you to create really nice looking emails really easily. As an example of what you can do, this is a community email we sent last year that looks similar to what we use now. Easy to put together, and very nice looking.

If you struggled with Google Docs, consider specifically what was not working. Was it a problem with the software, or with your processes or training? View this upgrade the same as you would when designing an improvement to an underperforming robot - what isn’t working? What features are required to fix it? Can you fix it with driver practice (or mentor/student/parent training)?

For example, if the problem was that many people did not log in to GD regularly, and you feel it unlikely that you will change that behavior, then an important feature of your software solution might be to distribute e-mail/text/twitter/whatever to get the word out to as many people as possible, preferably from initial “posts” in as few forums as possible.

And OBTW: How much training will it take each class of people to learn to use the new software/system? Once you have an initial set of possibilities, also look for deficiencies that may cause your experience to degrade further.

If you’re interested in Basecamp they have a teacher program and are more than willing to work with FIRST teams (I just got finished emailing them to verify this) That at least solves the cost problem.

Thanks for the replies. I have to agree that digging in and documenting what didn’t work and going the process improvement route makes sense and will likely be apart of requirements gathering for a new system. I am hoping for an integrated system to save time and training in manually integrating data from Google Docs (we do use Google forms today), email systems, and web.
I would like to integrate SMS into the application as well as I have found most students don’t look at their email often and sometime not at all, but see TXT messages in an instant. We used at the Dallas regional last year for SMS communication and I have to admit it worked really well.

I’ll take a look at Basecamp, I also Trello from some coordination we are doing at church. I have to admit, Wild Apricot is my favorite so far. It also has integrated payment processing.


+1 for Wild Apricot. We use it to track members, donors, events, alumni, etc. Depending on how big your organization is, Wild Apricot can solve a lot of issues.

Our referral link:

We use basecamp. I’m not sure how much this costs, as our mentor/sponsor provides it to us for free. We’re able to share code, cad, plans, pictures, and updates on this platform.

We tried Asana and Box a couple of years ago, but the training and retraining was too much. We ended up at Google Docs, in part because it provides at least rudimentary online Office-like applications. We also figured out how to link files and now run our purchase orders directly into our accounting system.

For emails we use Google Groups. We have different lists for students, mentors and parents. We use MailChimp for sponsors, community and newsletter emails.

Citrus Dad, your solution is our likely next step if we don’t go to an integrated solution. The Google Groups is a good suggestion.

Can you elaborate on this?

Let me get our team members to write a white paper about how they ran this system. It took a fair amount of design work, but then it was a godsend for managing finances.

We are looking for some of the same things to ease communications for team members, parents, sponsors , alumni, etc. I checked out mailchimp and your newsletter. Very nice!

I also like the idea of (First time I have heard of it) Does your team have a 501©(3) classification? Are you using a parent organization to obtain it?

Appreciate any insight. Thanks.

Aerosmit, curious what you ended up using. We are looking for a simple, easy to use, CRM system to track our fundraising and recruiting efforts. Any advice?


Thanks for asking. While we would have loved a slick CRM solution, we ended up staying with a combination of Google Docs/Forms and Mail Chimp due to the retaining issues that Citrus Dad mentioned. We would still love to find a way to better integrate payments and permission forms etc. to more simply manage students from five separate high schools.


We use a variety of things to help with communication. We use a Googlegroup for group communications. This works well, but can get cumbersome when a lot of message start flying. We started using Slack this year for small group and student communication. I have to say that I am in love with Slack. The ability to post and keep documents and links in the channels is amazing. We just noticed that they provide a free upgrade for nonprofits. It opens up some really cool features like unlimited storage of messages and video chat.

On a side note: slack was chosen over other similar apps because it’s not blocked by the school’s filters making student communication that much easier.

We have been talking about Slack as well. For group communications we use several Google hangouts to communicate among the whole team or among sub teams/mentors etc.

Team 5687 uses Slack for all of our student/mentor coordination, but we do not include parents there. I’ve explored a number of other tools for coordinating with parents, and was intrigued by TeamSnap, but so far we are relying in email and a per-event carpool coordination tool (

We depend on Slack very heavily and can’t imagine working without it now.

We’ve been using this text message app called Remind for the past couple years for official communication and I know the students use Slack to talk between themselves. It works ok, as long as the students actually pay attention to the message when they get it.

For everything else we just use email to communicate if it is not urgently needed.

Are you guys affiliated with a specific school? because our HS manages paperwork as far as field trip forms and stuff like that.

M.A.R.S. uses TeamSnap and we’re pleased after three years of use. Besides sending out mass emails you can also send out SMS alerts so that students who tend not to check their emails regularly can be alerted to the fact that there is an important announcement. A calendar lets you schedule events and provides automatic reminder emails to team members as well as attendance feedback. While the site is geared primarily towards sports teams (that’s where I first used it) it works very nicely for our teams. The free option gives you sufficient features to be useful.

We do all of our accounting, invoicing with Wave. It’s free. You can send an invoice online to a team members or a sponsor, and they can pay online for a 2.3% fee. The rest of the service is free to use, like track receipts you spent which can be uploaded via JPG or PDF in an OCR manner.