How CDC Foundation Is Using Technology and Data to Raise More Funds in the Fight Against COVID

The CDC Foundation is an independent nonprofit and the sole entity created by Congress to mobilize philanthropic and private-sector resources to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s critical health protection work.  Founded in 1992, the CDC Foundation helps CDC do more, faster, through the forging of partnerships between CDC and others to fight threats to health and safety like COVID-19.  Over 1,000 health protection programs have been established, over $1B have been raised to support the CDC’s work, and hundreds of public health programs in both the US and over 140 countries have benefited from the CDC Foundation’s mindful management.

On a recent webinar, the CDC Foundation’s Monique Patrick, Chief Operating Officer, and Laura Croft, Vice President for Advancement, alongside WealthEngine Executive VP and Chief Marketing Officer Raj Khera, joined Cloud for Good’s own Director of Professional Services Laura Maker and Director of Marketing Jenn Tate.  Together they explored how and why organizations like the CDC Foundation are doubling down on technology to increase their fundraising, even during a pandemic, and how technology partners like Cloud for Good and WealthEngine are helping transform their relief efforts through technology.

In addition to ramping up fundraising during an all-important time, CDC Foundation speakers went into great detail on how to manage a large-scale technology change like their migration from Raiser’s Edge to Salesforce, how to encourage user adoption, and how Salesforce has introduced incredible efficiency and impact to the Foundation’s fundraising strategy.

“Many of you might not have heard of CDC Foundation prior to COVID,” Croft revealed at the top of the webinar.  “We were sort of a best-kept secret.  Most of our funding was being driven through public health funding for organizations and philanthropy organizations that were focused on very specific scopes of work that would save, improve, and protect lives.  Someone once told me that people don’t often thank you for the disease they never got,” Croft continued.  That wouldn’t be the case for much longer, as the CDC Foundation sprung to action and quickly found itself in the public spotlight due to their emergency mobilization to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CDC Foundation’s relief figures speak for themselves and reveal a truly comprehensive strategy in the fight against COVID-19.  Across 72 states, territories, and countries, the CDC Foundation helped support response efforts around the world, raising an astonishing $193M in direct relief support.  The Salesforce technology that helped facilitate this expansive effort proved to be invaluable, but the CDC Foundation didn’t always have those tools at their disposal.  Before making the switch to Salesforce, the organization was, as Monique Patrick puts it, “heavily, heavily paper-based.”

Internal systems were disconnected, departments were siloed, and their Raiser’s Edge fundraising solution simply wasn’t living up to the needs and expectations of the CDC Foundation’s critical mission.  Monique Patrick had previous experience with Salesforce and knew that the “breadth of knowledge and information” within Salesforce could take the Foundation where they needed to go.  After 20+ years of operating within Raiser’s Edge, CDC Foundation started their Salesforce journey and haven’t looked back since.

With a connected suite of Salesforce products, integrations, and third-party applications, the CDC Foundation has been able to develop its advancement team, synergize workflows across departments, and utilize automation to add efficiency to their rapid response programs.  Summarizing the way Salesforce has transformed the Foundation’s business processes, Patrick said, “When we initially think about tools and think about how we can be more efficient, we think.. what can Salesforce do?  Can we utilize Salesforce to do these things?  And yes, we can!”  The peace of mind granted from the knowledge that their technology can advance, not retract, from a critically-important mission cannot be understated.

It is a sobering thought to consider how the CDC Foundation’s COVID-19 response might have differed had they not made the switch to Salesforce.  Luckily, that thought doesn’t need to be considered in light of the incredible achievements made possible through the CDC Foundation’s Salesforce technology.  The Foundation’s ability to rely on their technology to fundraise for local response efforts, increase lab capacities, and boost research, all while providing clear and timely communication, has made a quantifiable difference in the lives of so many.

After nearly two years on the Salesforce platform, the CDC Foundation has undergone a complete transformation of their technology and business processes.  Where they were once forced to adjust their processes according to the limits of their previous technology, now those processes have been revolutionized so that the organization can grow and evolve while tailoring their processes to the flexibility of Salesforce.  With these new capabilities, the CDC Foundation has been able to rapidly expand its efforts, growing the overall organization from 200 to 900 staff members in just a few short months.  Time has been saved through streamlined systems that integrate with one another, reporting is conducted in real-time providing heightened visibility for decision-makers, and giving has skyrocketed through more efficient campaigns and micro-sites.

“We would not have been able to operate and have the amazing impact we’ve had, and offer that impact with our donors, had we not gone through this amazing transformation,” said Croft in closing.  Through technology and data, the CDC Foundation has been able to raise millions in the continued fight against COVID-19 and has remained nimble, proactive, and ready to face any challenges thrown their way.  We should all be thankful to have selfless organizations like the CDC Foundation looking out for our world’s best interest, especially during this historic year, and we must acknowledge the critical role technology has played in maintaining that best interest.

For more information on the CDC Foundation, including how to donate to their Coronavirus Emergency Response Fund, visit cdcfoundation.org, or call (404) 653-0790 for more information.

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