United States

Increased collaboration helps nonprofit organization enhance fundraising

The Jewish Federations of North America


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The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) is an organization that represents over 150 federations that seek to strengthen Jewish communities at home and abroad. The organization is one of the top 10 charities on the continent and provides a wide range of services, including social welfare, social services, educational needs and political advocacy. JFNA is structured with each federation as a separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working together toward common goals.    


Over 80 federations utilized the same fundraising system; unfortunately, the legacy system was reaching end of life with no migration path. Rather than wait, the organization chose to be proactive and begin a selection process to evaluate and select appropriate system(s) for a replacement. JFNA had several goals for a new system, including improving fundraising outcomes and donor management, aligning and integrating traditional and online donation methods and keeping costs favorable for federations of all sizes, while accomplishing the desired functionality.    


JFNA chose RSM to assist with its system selection based on a variety of factors. Some individual federations had an existing successful relationship with RSM, and the organization recognized the value in the team’s proposed facilitated workshop methodology and emphasis on building buy-in and consensus to enable change management.

With so many separate federations, ensuring that all stakeholders were in agreement and a solution fit everyone’s needs was a key part of the project. The RSM team conducted more than 20 facilitated joint application design workshops with representatives from multiple federations and video feeds for those that could not attend in person.

The RSM team performed several key tasks to lead JFNA’s system selection process, including:

  • Conducting a detailed requirements analysis
  • Developing a request for proposal
  • Analyzing proposal responses
  • Preparing and conducting preliminary demos with a broad set of respondents
  • Facilitating the selection of vendor finalists
  • Designing and facilitating detailed, scripted scenario demonstrations with finalists
  • Performing vendor due diligence
  • Assisting in final vendor selection and contract negotiation

Following these steps, JFNA determined that Blackbaud Enterprise CRM was the best solution to meet the needs of the broadest range of federations. This constituent relationship management (CRM) and fundraising platform is available hosted in a cloud environment or on-premise, a key requirement for JFNA. In addition, the platform has strong integrated Web and direct marketing components, and Blackbaud customized the system to meet JFNA’s unique campaign needs using its new, upgradable technology and supported toolset.

The RSM and JFNA teams initially envisioned that three solutions would be required to meet the needs of small, medium and large federations. However, based on the collaboration achieved through the software selection process and the power of the economies of scale achieved by using one system throughout the federation system, the project oversight committee reached a unanimous consensus to go forward with the selected system and framework.

“By implementing a single system throughout the community, the federations can share best practices, uniform implementation methodology, standardized data migration utilities, a repository of standard and custom reports and system enhancements and documentation and training materials,” said JFNA Chief Information Officer Steve Cupertino. “Leveraging the federations’ collective purchasing power, combined with sharing technology and resources through a cloud-based solution, enables the new system to be made available at a lower total cost of ownership for the participating federations.”

Following the Blackbaud Enterprise CRM selection, RSM was retained to oversee the system implementation, including design, customization, data migration, testing, training, cutover and support, as well as to establish and integrate best practices across the organization. A pilot of five federations was successfully completed and the second wave of implementations is well underway, with approximately one go live every other month in 2014 and accelerating into 2015. As of Q4 2013, project management was transitioned to JFNA.


As a result of the Blackbaud Enterprise CRM implementation, JFNA’s fundraising capabilities are more extensive, with standardized processes and best practices across all federations. Basically, every participating federation is running the same system; RSM brought them together in designing the system, including desired customizations and upgrade schedules. Between a synergistic process, and RSM understanding the needs of the organization, federations now have a consistent, more functional solution that none of them individually could have afforded or managed.   

Other benefits of the Blackbaud Enterprise CRM project for the organization include:

  • A 360-degree view of donor relationship
  • More extensive options to communicate with donors, strengthening relationships and stewardship
  • Improved ability to scale
  • Improved reporting, dashboards and analytics
  • Increased capabilities to leverage the Web
  • Anywhere, anytime secure access 
“The real success of this project was not in selecting the right system, but in building the buy-in, consensus and commitment to collaboration that enabled the federations to work together. We could not have done this without RSM.”
-Steve Cupertino, Chief Information Officer, The Jewish Federations of North America


Bob Billig
National Practice Leader


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