This 501(c)(3) nonprofit fundraising organization helps ensure that all American Catholics can practice their faith within vibrant faith communities. Together with their donors, this non-profit helps connect poor and remote Catholic communities with essential financial support, educational partnerships, and infrastructure. This support is given based on need, passion, and commitment to the growth of the Catholic faith. To date, they have given more than $500 million to over 90 dioceses.
This organization partners with BlueGranite using our Recurring Services offering and receives a set number of dedicated support hours each month with consultants tasked to maintain their existing solution, as well as develop new enhancements.
To manage its vast network of over 140,000 donors, this organization uses a nonprofit specific customer relationship management (CRM) software. This CRM software includes all donor information and is the system of record for the fundraising team. Effective fundraising begins with accurate data, so maintaining donor profiles with up-to-date information like current mailing addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses is critical to the success of donation solicitations. However, maintaining this data in the CRM can be time consuming, as making mass updates via the front end is not easy – many hours are spent by staff making updates and ensuring the current data is valid.
Previously, this nonprofit had an automated solution to this problem, however there were a few key issues that prevented this solution from being successful. Primarily, the solution was error-prone, and errors had to be hand corrected by the staff, as the solution did not have a way to revert changes. Additionally, the solution was considered a "black box" – as the organization did not have the in-house staff to support the code behind the solution. Any support or maintenance was dependent on contracted support, which can be challenging when working with budget constraints.
Utilizing BlueGranite’s Recurring Services offering, the organization now makes use of a set number of dedicated hours of support each month, spending those hours on supporting and enhancing existing solutions or developing new ones as they see fit. Any development necessary for automating the CRM updates would need to be prioritized with existing projects and tasks.
Ultimately, they needed a solution that was automated and accurate, with enough checks in place to prevent errors or to revert them. This solution also has to be transparent in the sense that staff should be able to maintain and if necessary, upgrade it in-house.
After meeting with organization leadership to review requirements for the project, BlueGranite developed a cloud-based solution that met all requested needs, while using tools familiar to the staff due to their existing use. Hosted in Azure, the new solution uses resources used in existing extract, transform, load (ETL) processes, such as Azure Data Factory (ADF) v2, Logic Apps, Azure Storage, and Azure SQL DB.
Data is pulled in from a variety of sources, containing data points such as mailing addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and living/deceased indicators. This data needs to be compared to what is currently loaded in the CRM, and if the data does not match, the CRM’s records need to be updated. The data files are pulled from the organization and landed into Azure Storage, from which ADF pipelines access them and compare their contents to the CRM’s current records. Necessary changes are made in the CRM via REST API calls, called from the same ADF pipelines. All changes made in the CRM are fully logged in Azure SQL tables, with detailed records of what was updated and why. These logs not only make reversing changes straightforward, but they also enable the process to be easily monitored via Power BI.
By working closely with this nonprofit, BlueGranite was able to deliver a solution that automates the necessary CRM updates, while avoiding pitfalls introduced by previous solutions. The larger project was broken down into smaller tasks and sub-tasks, which were then prioritized with other work being done by BlueGranite. This implementation over time provided the organization with the opportunity to fully test and sign off on individual components of the solution, helping to minimize the chances of errors or unexpected results. BlueGranite's Recurring Services consultant and the BI Manager of this nonprofit collaborated together to understand and define the objectives and requirements. Once defined and an estimate created, the two were able to deliver a solution ahead of schedule, completing in 65% of the time of the original estimate. This organization is very pleased with the results of the solution, and have already seen benefits from not having to dedicate employee time to manual CRM updates. More accurate data has led to increased trust in the data within the organization.
“We are now confident to call ourselves a data-driven organization.”
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