by C.G. Lynch

Why a Non-Profit Adopted SaaS CRM to Organize Donors in Fight Against Breast Cancer

Jul 17, 20083 mins
CRM SystemsEnterprise Applications

Susan G. Komen for the Cure is adopting on-demand CRM from Convio, a SaaS vendor that works with non-profits to facilitate fundraising and organize volunteer efforts. One application, Common Ground, was built on's platform.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a non-profit that pursues the goal of eradicating breast cancer by funding research, is adopting an online Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system for its headquarters in Texas and 125 affiliates around the world.


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According to Justin Ricketts, VP of IT for Komen, the decision to move to a software as a service (SaaS) offering centered around the group’s need to centralize the fundraising efforts of all the affiliates, which historically had disparate technology applications.

“They all had contracted independently for IT services,” Ricketts says. “As you can imagine, this wasn’t an inherently efficient way to leverage technology.”

Rather than go through the hairy (and expensive) task of having an on-premise vendor integrate all these databases and install software on machines with different capabilities and operating systems, Ricketts says, he chose a SaaS offering from Convio, a company that has done CRM for non-profits since its inception in 1999.

This isn’t Komen’s first foray with Convio. Already, 50 of the affiliates were using TeamRaiser, online software that helps participants in Komen’s “Race for the Cure” raise money and garner sponsors.

A new product that Komen will be adopting is called Common Ground (code named Aikido), which Convio built on the platform and plans to make widely available sometime this fall. Common Ground aims to give users a unified view of how a non-profit is interacting with donors, volunteers and advocates.

Because Common Ground is built on the platform (run by, users of the software have access to AppExchange, a large set of third-party applications that developers who use the Salesforce platform have built.

“I can tap into that developer community and add capabilities,” Ricketts says. “We can be innovative in the way we store data about our constituents without having to rely on vendor enhancements.”

Ricketts also says the predictability of SaaS pricing makes it easier to predict technology costs. (Komen will pay per user per month.) Also, he won’t have to handle as much backend infrastructure and maintenance work since Convio will host the data.

Ricketts will hire a partner of Convio’s to migrate the data over to the CRM system. He plans to start with implementing the system for the headquarters and some affiliates this fall, with rollout completion for all the affiliates targeted for late 2009.