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I'm helping an organization that connects with wealthy schools to share surplus items (from scissors to books to furniture) with under-funded schools.

I'm looking to set something up so the wealthy schools can create a membership account online, create a list of items they have available, and then those items can be assigned to various under-funded schools, which have also created their own account along with a list of what they need.

These lists are currently being done through spreadsheets, but I'd like a way to integrate the list functionality with the member management functionality. At the very least my hope is that doing that will give more power to the schools to facilitate the donations on their own, and I hope it will make it easier for past donations to be displayed online. Ideally, I'd like the software to automatically assign the items to the schools in need, but that's probably asking too much.

Anyway, my main question is: will Civi be helpful with the management of these donation item lists, or are good old Google spreadsheets the way to go?

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interesting use case.

Firstly I would question if 'membership' is actually necessary for this, or do they just need to have a 'user account'?

In terms of the 'items', the only way I think you could do this so they can be 'assigned' to another school is if each 'item' is a discreet entity - and the mostly likely approach for doing this would be to have each as an Activity. You can then 'assign' the item to the recipient school.

You would then be able to report against these (via Views and Webforms if done in Drupal - which is the only way i would attempt this) in such a way that in theory the under-funded schools would be able to self-allocate the items, thus removing them from the 'available resources' list, and potentially trigger an email to the donating school to arrange the delivery of the resources etc.

So, in short, yes I think with the right conceptual application of what civi offers, and with the great tools that Drupal provides, I do think Civi could be helpful.

We have just done a challenging project which matches 'gift providers' with the children of prisoners, with the goal of delivering Xmas presents. It doesn't particularly mirror your requirements, but does have similarities in terms of linking an entity with the donor and the recipient etc. I need to get a blog written on it as it could flesh out quite nicely the way Views and Webforms can help deliver complex requirements like these.

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I also received a helpful answer from Rose in the Civi chat (thank you Rose!). Thought I'd post it here just to have it all in one place:

Interesting problem, and there's probably a way somehow. I've also looked at the response in Stack Exchange, which definitely recommends Drupal because then you can use Views and Webforms. A few questions first... 1) Why does it have to be Wordpress? 2) Do the schools need to log in/record their own needs and surplus or will it all be managed by staff in the organisation? 3) Are the items specifically limited (e.g. 3 tables, 100 books)?

A really simple method would be to just use custom fields to record what items are in surplus and then use Reports to pull off which items are needed, and use customised Activities to record any transactions between schools. Drupal is probably key if you do want the schools to log in and record their surplus or needs. You could use Memberships and Donations (of a sort) to record items donated but it's not as simple to record how the items are transferred to the under-funded schools. Possibly Grants but it's not a very sophisticated tool.

And Drupal is probably key if you want to display the info online (using Views) although you may be able to use the API to display some information but you can't interact with the information using the API. For example, people with some log in access can view information and then submit a request for it if you're using Drupal.

Sorry - discount my second question because you have already answered that! I asked the third question because if 'yes' then the answer in Stack Exchange is probably a better answer than mine, but if they're happy with using custom fields to just record categories of items (plus a free text field to provide a bit of detail, including condition), this would be sufficient for schools to see what's available.

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