Published
Wednesday, October 7, 2015 - 12:41
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The Highland Hospital Foundation is the 501(c)3 fundraising organization of HHA, Inc.  The mission of the Foundation is to enable and assist HHA, Inc. in maintaining quality behavioral health treatment programs.  As the philanthropic arm of HHA, Inc., the Highland Hospital Foundation supports the delivery of behavioral health services to patients of all ages and contributes to the overall quality of life in their community by providing financial assistance. Cividesk recently spoke with Gail Carter, Development Officer of the foundation about her experiences using CiviCRM.

When the Highland Hospital Foundation was first established, their data was successfully tracked using Excel spreadsheets since at that point they did not have much information to record. Gail was hired as the first employee dedicated to managing their activities and the organization began to take off. Donations increased and they needed a more robust way to keep track of event participants, record contributions and send mass emails. The IT department at the hospital researched different databases including Razor’s Edge, Sales Force for non-profits, and CiviCRM.  After comparing and analyzing the programs, cost was one of the major determinants for the foundation’s decision to use CiviCRM, an open source software.  Gail looked at different options available for hosting and support of CiviCRM and found that Cividesk had reasonable pricing and was a good fit with their monthly subscription plan.

The foundation did hire a third party that was local to help them transition their current data to Excel so it could be imported into CiviCRM. Cividesk staff guided the organization through this process with continual phone contact and support and was in charge of all of the implementation, configuration and data import in CiviCRM . The initial basic training that Cividesk provided as part of the implementation package was helpful, although Gail confided, “I tend to be more hands-on and prefer to figure it out on my own and then ask questions”. She has enjoyed participating in a few online classes that Cividesk offers as a refresher to the initial training and has participated in several CiviTips, short webinars on a specific topic taught weekly by Cividesk.

The Foundation is using CiviCRM to help manage their events. One example is their annual golf tournament that they host in conjunction with a local partner. In May of 2014 the registration was all handled on paper by their co-host.  Using CiviCRM for event management has enabled Gail to handle that task without much extra work thanks to online registration and payment using Paypal Pro.  She successfully gathers more specific information about the participants as well as custom data such as the golf handicap by making those fields required on the registration form.   She finds it helpful that she is notified every time someone registers. “I was better organized since I could keep producing lists regarding participants” she explained and “participation increased about 25% at the 2015 tournament”.  

The foundation has been using CiviCRM for over a full year now.  In that short amount of time, they have found it easier to stay in touch with major donors by creating groups and tags to identify those contacts and then target communication to them, such as sending customized letters or special invites to events. Gail appreciates how CiviCRM allows her to have a “more focused approach” in her daily activities thanks to the accessibility of data related to her contacts.

The reporting feature of CiviCRM has served as a form of checks and balances for the organization.  Gail uses the “out of the box” contribution report templates to produce a report to track credit card payments as well as payment by check. “It’s essential to have specific information about payments available in CiviCRM and to easily compile that in a report”.

Gail has noticed an increase in donations thanks to online payment being integrated with the CiviCRM contribution page.  “It’s easy to use” adds Gail, “and the communication with donors has been improved.  CiviCRM provides a more efficient way of keeping contacts, donations and more data organized than Excel” she notes, “the data is safer since it’s stored in the cloud and the database is backed up every day.  I don’t have to worry about the system being down since the database is hosted on servers monitored daily by Cividesk”.  When asked what she might tell other non-profits who are considering CiviCRM, she emphasizes that CiviCRM is a great tool for helping manage a non-profit, and she has often recommended it to other organizations in her community.

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