National Trust for Historic Preservation

NTHP Data Sync Middleware Project

Have you ever gotten the feeling that something about your data management should just… be… easier? Our custom data sync for the National Trust for Historic Preservation has saved their team hours and hours of work.

National Trust for Historic Preservation
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Systems Used

Services Provided

Client Sector

Date Completed

  • November 2016

The National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) team spent dozens of hours a week ensuring that data moved between their systems — a manual and tedious process requiring several staff members. They needed a way to connect their online transactions with their offline donor records, and they came to us to make it happen… Twice!

After working with us to successfully build a sophisticated sync between NTHP’s Luminate forms and their Abila netFORUM records, the NTHP team decided to migrate their online operations from Luminate to Engaging Networks, and they returned to us for the necessary sync adjustments! The NTHP team now uses Engaging Networks to collect online donations, send bulk email messages, and facilitate online petitions and action letters.

When first designing the structure of the sync, we worked diligently to understand every single field and database table between their online forms and their netFORUM donor database. 

We developed the custom data sync to connect records in each system, including bi-directional updates as needed on particular field types. After testing and ensuring that the functionality of the sync was working as intended, we then build a customized admin interface so that the sync and data mapping could be managed and executed by more than just the most technically advanced staff members.

The overall project goals were clear, but the execution of the tasks behind the goals were quite complicated:

  • For the original sync, Luminate’s development options included only a partition of live data, so there was an uncomfortable amount of risk in testing the sync and we needed to be very careful to not destroy real records as we manipulated test data.
  • For each platform and each field, we needed to assess how data was stored, how it would be matched or translated when recorded on the corresponding platform, and what system’s data would be considered most authoritative.
  • After testing each data type individually, we needed to consider the order of operations and make sure that transactions and interactions were properly tied to corresponding constituents.
  • From our initial script testing, we then needed to test against more records and use cases before finally running the scripts with real data.
  • After successfully executing the sync manually for a number of weeks, we then built a user interface to overlay the sync steps, allowing the staff at NTHP to either manually schedule or automatically initiate each step of the sync process.

Biographical details for all donors and members in Engaging Networks now regularly sync into netFORUM’s donor management tools, along with all donations and membership preferences. In return, netFORUM syncs critical audience segmentation details back to Engaging Networks concerning donations (most recent and total across all mail, phone, and online payments) and updated membership status.

Data work that used to take days now happens in a matter of moments without any staff intervention, affording the NTHP team more time for other projects and priorities!

  • Cornershop Creative undertook with enthusiasm what we knew would be a challenging data sync project and far exceeded expectations. Whether your project is a small design refresh or a major technical undertaking, I can't recommend Cornershop Creative enough.

    Alison Hinchman