Contributed by Christie Wentz, Executive Director of Drug Free Pennsylvania, Inc
In the spring of 2013, I was appointed as the Executive Director of Drug Free Pennsylvania
. It didn’t take me long to realize that we had a challenge when it came to the several disparate tools we were using to track and interact with the supporters of our programs . As a parent organization for three sub-programs, we had a substantial amount of data to track. A critical step in growing our outreach was to identify an agency to help us update our outdated websites and marketing materials. As I reviewed our processes I began to realize how everything was interconnected. Donations were being passed through our website to PayPal where those transactions and contacts were being stored. Constant Contact was being utilized for mass email campaigns, QuickBooks for billing, and another employee had Filemaker Pro on their laptop for tracking event attendees and conference information. ACT by Sage was being used for tracking our contact lists, as well as Excel spreadsheets with duplicate and additional information. Website contact form submissions from the website went through a separate system and memberships were semi-managed in a custom proprietary software that was created for our Drug-Free WorkPlace Solutions program. As you can imagine, I was spending significant time trying to remember where information was stored and I wasn’t getting much time to focus on the real purpose of our organization.
One of the agencies we spoke with highly recommended a solution called Infusionsoft. They were eager that it would offer our organization Contact Management, Marketing Automation, Sales Automation, and E-commerce. There were a few drawbacks for me however;it was limited to 10,000 contacts, five users, and it cost $379.00 per month. Upon further investigation, I realized the monthly price could easily double if we added any functional plugins. Additionally, this solution wasn’t built for non-profits so I had a concern as to whether we could use it to manage donations and memberships effectively. The estimated cost of $700 per month was simply not in the budget and would not be a good long term solution for us.
During this time, we were talking with a few agencies including Arete Imagine Inc
. Arete was confident they could find or build an open source solution that would work with their proposed web platform, WordPress. Using an open source solution would not involve any per user licensing fees or have limitations on the number of contacts supported. They also introduced the idea with this solution that our multi-site web properties could be seamlessly integrated. This implementation proposal would provide us with one system, where all data would be collected and stored. Over several meetings we discussed our needs and what options were available. I had a fast approaching deadline and was running out of time when Nate, President of Arete Imagine Inc., called a meeting to discuss a solution he thought looked promising. Nate’s experience in implementing Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics CRM gave me confidence that this solution was worth considering. During that meeting he introduced me to CiviCRM and immediately I got the sense that this was the answer to our problem. Additional research needed to be completed to ensure CiviCRM could be customized for our specific needs. I was especially intrigued that Nate felt this solution could be completely customized to reflect our current front end styling, meaning no change in style or branding for our end users.
Nate spent the next six months educating himself on the CiviCRM software and collaborated with several other experts in the field to learn everything he could. His implementation proposed installing CiviCRM on WordPress in a multi-site environment, to his knowledge this had never been done before. Nate formed a team with several experts and was able to implement the solution seamlessly with our website. This truly created a single location for managing all of our members and supporters, replacing at least eight other systems that were being used previously.