The National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) recently undertook the herculean task of migrating its donor management system from a dated mainframe application to Abila’s netFORUM, where it now manages donors, transactions, major gifts, grants and other donation management processes. NTHP continues to use Luminate Online to solicit and collect online donations, send bulk email messages, and allow for individuals to send petitions and sign action letters.
In order to ensure that NTHP could use both netFORUM and Luminate Online successfully, we built a custom data sync to connect records in each system, including bi-directional updates as needed on particular field types, then built a customized user interface so that the sync and data mapping could be managed and executed by more than just the most technically advanced staff members.
Before the data sync was implemented, NTHP staff spent dozens of hours a week ensuring that data moved between their systems &mdash a manual and tedious process requiring several staff members. Now, nearly all data comes over in a matter of moments without any staff intervention.
Biographical details for all donors and members in Luminate Online regularly sync into netFORUM’s donor management tools, along with all donations, action alert responses, and emails received. In return, netFORUM syncs critical audience segmentation details back to Luminate Online concerning donations (most recent and total across all mail, phone, and online payments) and updated membership status.
The overall project goals were clear, but the execution of the tasks behind the goals were quite complicated:
- 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.
The data sync middleware allows for improved constituent relationship management, providing a more robust view of individuals’ activities across advocacy, fundraising and email campaigns.
Holy complicated, Batman!