Foundation Center Advances Philanthropy with NetSuite.org

Posted by Laurie Wood, Director, Industry Marketing, NetSuite

Philanthropy has for decades been instrumental in bettering underserved populations and advancing economic, educational, healthcare, environmental and other social causes around the globe. At the heart of the multi-billion dollar sector is Foundation Center—the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide.

Established in 1956, Foundation Center connects people who want to make a difference in the world with the philanthropic resources they need to succeed. With a comprehensive database of global grantmakers and a broad range of research, educational and training programs, the New York City-based nonprofit advances knowledge of philanthropy at every level.

Foundation Center, however, needed to advance, too The organization struggled with a multitude of legacy applications and processes, resulting in fragmented business systems. As complexity increased, the result was a proliferation of manual processes, reliance on IT expertise, limited visibility into key information, and a drain on financial and operational efficiency.

"It was very challenging for leadership to rely on inconsistent sets of numbers from different departments," said Robert Yaeger, vice president for finance and administration at Foundation Center. "It's hard to make strategic decisions on the future when you don't have dependable information about what happened in the past."

Today, those challenges are in the rear-view mirror. The nonprofit has dramatically transformed its speed, insights, coordination and social impact with a large-scale IT modernization initiative launched in 2010 that has replaced a myriad of aging on-premise systems with NetSuite’s modern cloud business environment.

Better Coordination and a 360-Degree View

In a multi-phase rollout, Foundation Center is implementing NetSuite to support core processes including financials, order processing, ecommerce, CRM and donor management, and budgeting and forecasting. With NetSuite, Foundation Center has strengthened relationships with two core constituencies—customers who access and/or purchase knowledge resources, as well as large donors such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Ford Foundation that help fund the organization’s work.

"We have made huge strides by implementing NetSuite to replace our many legacy systems," said Crystal Mandler, Director of Business Systems. "With NetSuite, we now have a single coordinated effort across the organization and strive to make the most of every interaction with our donors and customers with a 360-degree view."

The NetSuite.org corporate citizenship program has played a key role in Foundation Center’s transformation. Offering free and discounted licensing to qualified nonprofits and social enterprises, NetSuite.org contributes to savings of $500,000 to $1 million that the Foundation Center expects to see over five years in reduced IT infrastructure and personnel expenses and software licensing, and through the elimination of redundant manual work required in its previous environment.

Other benefits Foundation Center is realizing include:

Improved customer management. With NetSuite CRM, Foundation Center is capturing all constituent interactions through all touchpoints, including ecommerce, call center, events, and its 480 Funding Information Network partners in public libraries and other physical locations in 13 countries. With a 360-degree view, Foundation Center is able to drive better customer engagement and adoption of its products.

Improved donor management. NetSuite's single unified record enables Foundation Center to better manage and cultivate important relationships with institutional donors, giving personnel across departments a real-time view of status and history with these critical constituents.

Better tactical and strategic decision making. With consistent, real-time information available on demand, Foundation Center managers are able to make informed, data-driven decisions that enable the organization to better fulfill its mission to strengthen the social sector by advancing knowledge about philanthropy in the U.S. and around the world..

Reduced reliance on IT and super-users. NetSuite's ease of use broadens access to critical data across the organization, eliminating the need for staff to engage with IT or super-users experienced with the intricacies of a legacy system, improving productivity and accuracy across the board.

With the modernization project about 65 percent complete, Foundation Center is set to bring Foundation Directory Online, its largest revenue-generating product, into NetSuite and plans to implement NetSuite for donor management. Foundation Center also hopes to integrate NetSuite with a Tableau visual business intelligence solution for enhanced dashboard-based tracking and decision making.

Foundation Center credits the NetSuite.org corporate citizenship program for its role in supporting the legacy modernization effort. "NetSuite.org has been a huge value for us," Mandler said. "The nonprofit discount has really made it possible for us to eliminate all those legacy applications."

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