Bloomerang Case Study: Full-system Automation with MIB Agents [Webinar]
Your Bloomerang database is the central donor management and fundraising platform for your organization, but Bloomerang likely isn’t the only app that you use day to day. We believe Bloomerang is your central system and that integrations supplement your Bloomerang database. Automation should start from a lens that Bloomerang is core to your donor management and fundraising technology.
Fundraisers can save time, increase outreach with key constituents, and streamline operational tasks by leveraging Bloomerang’s suite of native integrations and exploring custom automations via Zapier. Learn how MIB Agents increased its fundraising efforts and outcomes by integrating other apps used for donor cultivation and stewardship with Bloomerang.
The goal of this webinar is to show you how integrating apps in your tech stack with Bloomerang can achieve significant outcomes.
During this webinar, you will learn the following:
- Challenges that led MIB Agents to explore automation
- Options for Bloomerang native integrations and custom automations using Zapier
- MIB Agents’ journey toward full-system automation and solution implementation
- Outcomes MIB Agents has experienced since automating key workflows
Webinar transcript (not including Q&A):
Good afternoon, and welcome to Bloomerang Academy! Thank you for joining us. My name is Diana Otero, and I am the Product Engagement Manager at Bloomerang. You might recognize me from attending Bloomerang Academy classes or listening to our release and help videos.
Today, we’re sharing a Bloomerang Case Study that Explores Full-system Automation with MIB Agents.
I’d like to introduce our presenter today, Jessie Gilchrist. Jessie is a Zapier Certified Expert and Bloomerang Integrations Consultant at Sidekick Solutions.
Sidekick Solutions is a Bloomerang Partner, specializing in system automations for Bloomerang. Sidekick Solutions has been a Bloomerang user since 2013 and most recently was part of the Bloomerang team that launched the Bloomerang Zapier app.
We’re excited to have Jessie here today to share her expertise and explore how integrations with Bloomerang can take your fundraising efforts and donor cultivation to the next level.
Thank you Diana. Hello everyone! It’s great to be here.
We often get asked how integrations work in real settings, with real organizations, in a day-to-day scenario. To illustrate how Bloomerang remains the core, central system in an organization’s tech stack and fundraising strategy, we are going to share the story of MIB Agents’ journey to full system automation.
Many organizations say that the thought of integrating other apps with Bloomerang feels overwhelming or unattainable. Our hope is that by the end of this webinar, you’ll see how one organization was able to successfully implement automations across the organization and attain significant outcomes to further drive their mission and goals.
Our webinar today will…
- Introduce MIB Agents and the challenges they were facing that led to exploring automation
- Explore the solutions MIB Agents deployed
- Share the outcomes MIB Agents has experienced since integrating its tech stack
- Discuss the future vision as MIB Agents explores other automation opportunities
Now, let’s dive into MIB Agents.
MIB Agents is a leading pediatric osteosarcoma nonprofit dedicated to Making It Better for their community of patients, caregivers, doctors, and researchers with the goal of less toxic, more effective treatments and a cure for this aggressive bone cancer.
The work MIB Agents performs is widespread and impactful. It encompasses three main areas of focus: funding necessary research, providing education, and patient support programs. Here is a short video showcasing some of the programs MIB Agents provides to the osteosarcoma community. This background is important as many of the solutions they’ve put in place are directly tied to these initiatives.
Now that you have a sense of the work MIB Agents does, let’s talk about their journey to full-system automation.
Only two years ago MIB Agents was managing their constituent and fundraising data in spreadsheets. They were experiencing a growing inability to find the information they needed or successfully perform outreach to their community. They had the data they needed, but it was messy and unusable. Trying to maintain spreadsheets of donor and fundraising data was quickly becoming everyone’s full time job. MIB Agents estimated they were spending 10-12 hours per week managing their data files, and it never seemed to be enough.
Furthermore, MIB Agents wanted to improve its outreach to and engagement with members of the osteosarcoma community. This included not only more “touches” with community members, but also finding solutions to increase engagement with MIB Agents’ outreach.
They needed to scale and wanted to do more with less resources. This led MIB Agents to begin exploring options for a donor database. As they explored solutions, they came across Bloomerang and were drawn in by its ability to integrate with other apps.
At the time MIB Agents migrated to Bloomerang, the organization wasn’t using any other apps to support it’s fundraising or donor cultivation activities. This didn’t last long.
MIB Agents’ approach to adding new tools to its tech stack is special. When identifying new tools to add to their Bloomerang ecosystem, they don’t go out and search for a new tool and then adapt their work to fit the solution. Instead, they focus on their mission, strategic plan, and organizational goals, allowing real use-cases to drive the adoption of new tools/apps.
They start by identifying each use case, confirming its alignment with their organizational goals, and defining the experience they want constituents to have. Only then do they go to the marketplace to find the tool that best fits their use case and that is integration friendly.
This is where Bloomerang’s ability to talk to other apps comes into play.
It is easy to say that Bloomerang has positioned itself as the most integration friendly donor database in the marketplace. When we talk about Bloomerang integrations, there are two types we should differentiate between: native and custom.
Native integrations, often called “direct” integrations, are built within the Bloomerang database. These are often the most user-friendly form of integration and offer a standardized sync of data between two systems. They are also included in your Bloomerang subscription. We would consider these “templated” integrations. Meaning, there is little room for customization.
Native integrations available in Bloomerang include:
- Fundraise Up
- QuickBooks Online
The other option for integrating with Bloomerang is by setting up a custom integration using the Bloomerang app in Zapier. Zapier is the software that enables additional Bloomerang integration and fundraising opportunities. It’s a middleware that sits in between your Bloomerang database and other apps, helping them “talk” to each other.
Zapier is automation software. With Zapier, you can build one integration or many, automating hundreds of tasks around your Bloomerang system within a single platform.
So, why get excited about Bloomerang Zapier integrations? There are three primary reasons custom Bloomerang integrations with Zapier are a value-add for your organization.
First and most important, Zapier connects to 3,000+ other apps. Any apps in Zapier’s directory can be connected to Bloomerang. If it’s on Zapier’s list it can be integrated with Bloomerang. This extends the boundaries of your Bloomerang database substantially as many apps your organization may use are likely not natively integrated with Bloomerang. Additionally, if a native integration in Bloomerang does not meet your organization’s use case, Zapier can be used to design and deploy a similar, more customized version of the integration.
Second, Zapier was designed for anyone to build integrations. You don’t need to know how to code to build Zaps. Anyone can build and maintain a Zap.
Third, Zapier enables custom integrations. You aren’t limited to one-size fits all workflows, mapping, or formatting. You can build integrations that are perfect for your organization and your workflows. Flexibility is especially important because every organization’s fundraising strategy and needs are different.
We’d like to do a quick poll to see how many of you are using Bloomerang integrations currently.
As MIB Agents began pursuing new tools to support its fundraising and donor cultivation, retention, and stewardship efforts, it implemented a combination of both native and custom Zapier integrations to automate tasks between apps in its tech stack.
Here is a diagram showing the apps MIB Agents has integrated with Bloomerang and the type of integration.
Let’s talk through the use case for each of these in a little bit more detail. We’re going to start with the native integrations and we’re only going to give a brief overview of these as they are well documented in Bloomerang’s help center and are showcased in other Bloomerang Academy classes.
The first one we are going to tackle is Fundraise Up. MIB Agents was able to successfully set up this integration before engaging Sidekick Solutions in January 2021.
Bloomerang’s native Fundraise Up integration syncs donors, donations, and recurring donation plans from Fundraise Up to Bloomerang in real time.
The native Bloomerang integration with Fundraise Up allows you to customize the mapping for Fundraise Up campaigns, funds, designations, and custom fields. Alternatively, the integration also offers auto-mapping.
For MIB Agents, the native integration between Fundraise Up and Bloomerang supported their use case. Had this been different, MIB Agents could have explored a custom integration via Zapier as Fundraise Up offers a Zapier app that can be connected to Bloomerang.
Now, the beauty of connecting Fundraise Up to Bloomerang is that it not only syncs these donors and donations to Bloomerang, but it then also syncs the data to QuickBooks Online.
QuickBooks Online is the other native integration MIB Agents utilizes. With the Bloomerang QuickBooks integration, you can start and end your transaction entry with Bloomerang. No more double data entry!
Syncing donations from your donor database to your accounting platform is one of the number one ways to save time and resources, as well as ensure your systems are reconciled.
Bloomerang has designed the integration to allow organizations to define custom mapping rules for the QuickBooks Online Account, Product/Service, and Class, using the Bloomerang Fund, Campaign, Appeal, Type, and/or Method as criteria. This ability to customize the mapping rules makes this integration flexible and ensures proper translation of fundraising codes in Bloomerang to accounting codes in QuickBooks Online.
Bloomerang’s native QuickBooks Online integration is fairly robust and meets the needs of most organizations. Similar to Fundraise Up, if the native integration does not meet your organization’s use case, a custom integration can be designed using Zapier as QuickBooks Online also has a Zapier app.
Now it’s time to move onto the custom integrations MIB Agents has set up using Zapier as the bridge between their other apps and Bloomerang. The first one we are going to showcase is Shopify.
Many of you have likely heard of Shopify before or possibly even use it at your organization. For those of you that haven’t heard of it before, Shopify is an eCommerce platform and provides organizations with a pre-built solution for hosting an online store.
MIB Agents adopted Shopify in 2020, but had not taken any steps to promote their online store. This was partly due to the organization still getting up and running with Bloomerang and also because the app was not integrated with Bloomerang yet.
We implemented MIB Agents’ Shopify integration in tandem with their QuickBooks Online integration. This impacted our design of the Shopify integration as it allowed us to discuss how purchases, shipping, and tax may need to be coded differently in Bloomerang in order to, ultimately, code these transaction types differently in QuickBooks Online.
MIB Agents’ Shopify integration was designed to sync customers to Bloomerang and create separate donations for item purchases, shipping, and tax on the order. Additionally, the workflow was designed to dynamically code the Fund and Campaign in Bloomerang based on the item purchased in Shopify. This dynamic coding makes MIB Agents’ integration scalable as they can define the Fund and Campaign that should be assigned in Bloomerang for each new product in Shopify.
Once the data is synced to Bloomerang via Zapier, custom mapping rules in the QuickBooks Online native integration define the corresponding Product/Service and Class for these different transactions.
In addition to its online store with Shopify, MIB Agents uses Webflow for its website hosting and online forms. None of these forms collect donations, but rather support their education and support programs by facilitating engagement with the osteosarcoma community.
MIB Agents had 16 Webflow forms it needed to integrate with Bloomerang. Not only did the automations need to find (or create) constituent records in Bloomerang for the submitter, but they also needed to create interactions to record the form submission and update the Bloomerang constituent to capture new contact information submitted through the form.
In some instances, the form collected information for multiple constituents and the automation was designed to ensure each of these individuals was added to Bloomerang with a record of the submission.
A full transcript of each submission was written to the Note on the Interaction, while key data fields for segmentation and reporting were mapped to custom fields.
In total, this project resulted in 23 different workflows in Zapier to support the successful sync, automation logic, and conversions needed to meet MIB Agents’ use case.
Additionally, some Webflow form submissions were integrated with Bonjoro.
Bonjoro is an engagement tool that enables organizations to send personalized videos to constituents. MIB Agents hadn’t begun using Bonjoro yet, but had a clear vision of the initial use cases it wanted to utilize the platform form.
The first automations we tackled were to create tasks for MIB Agents staff in Bonjoro when a constituent becomes a new donor, a recurring donor, or makes a donation over $150. With Zapier, we were able to configure these automations with ease and MIB Agents dove in right away to begin acknowledging constituents through this new communication avenue.
Once we began configuring the automations for Webflow forms, MIB Agents identified two additional use cases for sending personalized messages.These two use cases are a programmatic follow-up with constituents, not a fundraising outreach. The impact of these workflows has been immense and we will touch on this a bit more when we discuss MIB Agents’ outcomes in a bit.
I wanted to end by talking about MIB Agents’ Mailchimp integration as it is unique and utilizes a few different avenues for integration.
For many organizations, the native Bloomerang integration with Mailchimp will meet their needs and use case. The decision for using Zapier and not the native Mailchimp integration comes down to the type of emails MIB Agents wanted to send out of Mailchimp. Specifically, MIB Agents wanted certain donor activity to automatically trigger an email series in Mailchimp. This can only be accomplished via Zapier automation.
There are four email series that MIB Agents is currently sending out of Mailchimp and the number of emails in each series ranges from 6 to 12.
- New Donor Welcome
- Recurring Donor Acknowledgment
- Lapsed 1 Year Recapture
- Lapsed 2 Year Recapture
The Lapsed Donor Recapture series are even more unique than a simple Zapier automation as they use another automation tool called mailparser.io. Mailparser.io is a parsing tool that is often used in Bloomerang automations when the triggers in Bloomerang’s Zapier app and/or API are not sufficient for the use case. MIB Agents had complex criteria for when a donor was considered lapsed and specifically wanted to exclude different categories of major donors. In order to capture these requirements and exclusion, scheduled reports were designed and sent to mailparser.io. The parsed report then triggered the Zapier automation to create the corresponding Event in Mailchimp.
If this use case feels advanced, that is because it is. Extensive discovery, discussion, and testing were performed to ensure the solution met MIB Agents’ use case before it was deployed.
At this point, you may be wondering how much time and investment it took to take MIB Agents from a spreadsheet based organization to the full-system automation we’ve outlined today.
Here are some metrics to provide the scope for implementing these solutions:
- Implementation timeline is ongoing — MIB Agents began partnering with Sidekick Solutions to configure solutions January 2021 and this relationship is ongoing (more on this in a bit)
- MIB Agents dedicated around 4-5 hours of internal resource per automation
- Q1-Q2 implementation costs were $9,000 and we anticipate $3,000-$5,000 for Q3-Q4 as we refine and expand existing solutions, and explore new automations
- In addition to app licenses, MIB Agents pays $290/year for mailparser.io and $500/year for Zapier
That put’s MIB’s total automation costs for 2021 at a little under $13,000. This includes implementation costs and automation tools.
I’d like to introduce Liz Vallejo, the Director of Operations at MIB Agents. I’ve asked Liz to hop on the webinar and share, in her own words, what MIB Agents’ experience was implementing these automations over the past year.
The discovery of Zapier and native integrations has been a game-changer for us. We have built our suite of programs and automations in the last 9-10 months and feel like we have transitioned from spending most of our time on data management, organization and menial tasks to spending our time truly Making It Better for our community and achieving our mission. A few lessons we learned along the way:
- Find the best products and partners for your specific needs. We have used a cross functional team of finance, operations, development, marketing and programs for aspects of our journey. Our great partners in Sidekick Solutions to help with our automations and our accounting partner, Blue Fox, have been heavily involved in us building a set of programs that will sustain us in future growth.
- A team member will need to take ownership of managing the programs, maintenance, and debugging. While these automations will greatly increase your efficiency, impact and clean data they do require someone to watch over the process and debug.
- Great parts of this journey:
- We are building an infrastructure that will scale easily as we grow and develop.
- Frustrations of not finding current constituent data, data not matching, etc has dramatically decreased
- Our team finally has the space and time to work on the really important projects and personalized communication
- Our community is engaging in programs and donating significantly more
- Challenging parts:
- Trusting that spending money on these systems would help us further our mission. As a non-profit we must be good stewards of our donors money and therefore struggle to spend money unless it is toward direct programs, we had to take a leap of faith that this expense would help us achieve our mission. We had a small list of automations needs when we began this process- as we have seen the power of these automations we have added many more projects to our automation building.
- Our roles needed to change from the majority of our work being routine and basic to our team being able to spend a majority of their time on strategic planning and higher level leadership needs.
Now the fun part! We’d like to share the outcomes MIB Agents has experienced since implementing these automations and leveraging Bloomerang as its donor database.
- Increase in new recurring donors by 63% in 6 months
- Increase in donor retention by 13% as a result of cleaner data and better communication with their community
- In 6 months, email open rate has increased by 5%, click through rate has increased by 12%, and unsubscribe requests have gone down by 29%
- Increased the number of constituents in their community by 10%
- Added additional capabilities to further their missions without increasing resource costs — only spend 1 hour per week, and another 5 hours per quarter, managing data in Bloomerang
- Experienced consistent and more personalized outreach with members in the osteosarcoma community and are able to engage more frequently
We anticipate these outcomes to continue growing as these solutions are expanded and more automations are added to support the work MIB Agents does. The outcomes we just shared are tangible, real, and have made a significant impact in MIB Agents furthering its mission. However, there is one more outcome that we’d like to share with you.
As this outcome represents the core of MIB Agents’ mission, I’d like to ask Liz Vallejo to hop back on and share one of the most impactful outcomes MIB Agents has experienced.
When we started the automation journey we weren’t really certain about all of the options or possibilities for automation. Through our work, our list of ways that automation can assist us has grown dramatically. We started with the idea that automation can help us clean up data and keep our data current- and it does! But it can do so much more.
In most programs we have found barriers to participation or involvement that we have begun to look at automations to help us lower that barrier. One example is our program called Gamer Agents. To understand this program you need to know that osteosarcoma is diagnosed most often in kids aged 10-16 and leaves kids with battered immune systems, often unable to attend school for almost a year and legs or arms that are full or metal or missing altogether from amputation. Therefore a once active teen is suddenly not able to participate in activities as they did before osteosarcoma and video gaming becomes many kids’ social outlet.
Gamer Agents is a group of trained older teen and young adult volunteers that have been impacted by osteosarcoma that play video games with kids that are currently fighting osteosarcoma in a private and safe server. We have found that once kids become involved they absolutely love it. They find that they have so much in common and feel understood and accepted unlike most of the rest of their interactions. The main barrier is getting a teenage kid to give it a try- often the parents see the need and opportunity and the teenager does what they do best, push back. So we built an automation about 5 months ago to send out a set of videos from the main Gamer Agent volunteers. These volunteers are fun, cool and down to earth teens and young adults and seeing and hearing from these kids breaks down the barrier to not wanting to join. Since beginning this automation our Gamer Agent group and activity has doubled in numbers. We are able to lower the barrier for participation and these kids fighting osteosarcoma have found a place of belonging.
Our views on the benefits and types of automations has evolved dramatically and we couldn’t be happier with the benefits we have discovered from using automations.
The journey to full-system automation is never over. As more use cases require automation or other apps are added to MIB Agents’ system, we intend to continue improving and expanding the solutions integrated with their Bloomerang database.
Already, we have a backlog of additional workflows and use cases we intend to solve for over the coming months and years. This includes additional workflows around the apps they currently use and also exploring solutions to meet new use cases.
Here is a taste of the solutions we have in the queue for MIB Agents:
- Automate fulfillment and reorder of osteosarcoma resource requests for health care providers and patients/families (potentially using Shopify)
- Develop more automated email series in Mailchimp for other constituent segments
- Create new Bonjoro workflows for targeted follow-up based on constituent giving (i.e., Family Funds)
- Increase engagement with other osteosarcoma community members (i.e., patients, families, doctors, etc.)
- Increase engagement with and outreach to MIB Agents volunteers
- Identify solutions to integrate other fundraising platforms (32Auctions, RunSignUp)
- Deploy mass text communications
To wrap up today’s presentation, I’ll leave you with a few thoughts on the power of integrations with Bloomerang and the journey of attaining full-system automation.
When we think about full-system automation, it’s helpful to think of it as stacking bricks. Once you have one automation in place, you level-up to the next layer, and so on.
The graphic on the screen, while it may look a bit complex, is illustrating this approach. And MIB Agents, without realizing it, has adopted this approach to full-system automation.
MIB Agents has built a strong foundation with Bloomerang as its donor database and center of it’s tech stack. This foundation is the springboard that allows MIB Agents to iterate forward toward heavier automations across its tech stack.
We believe Bloomerang should be your central system and integrations should supplement your Bloomerang database. Automation should start from a lens that Bloomerang is core to your donor management and fundraising technology.
If we look at MIB Agents’ current tech stack, we can see this illustrated perfectly. Bloomerang is the center with data flowing in and out of the database via automation.
Native integrations and custom automation using Zapier supplement and extend the power of Bloomerang. They don’t replace it. By automating tasks and the flow of data between apps your organization uses day to day, you can save time, resources, energy, and more. Spend less time performing data entry and more time focusing on your mission and cultivating donors.
Thank you for attending today. It has been my pleasure sharing MIB Agent’s journey to full-system automation and hope it has inspired you to explore how integration could help your organization with its fundraising efforts.
Again, my name is Jessie Gilchrist. My email is here and my door is always open.
If you’d like to work with a consultant to set up Bloomerang integrations or explore your use case and tech stack, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
I will hand it off to Diana for a quick poll before we open up for more questions.
Let’s take a few final questions.
Thank you to everyone for joining us today. We, at Bloomerang, are very excited for the extended capabilities possible with both native and custom Zapier integrations. We’re very excited to see where all of you will take it. Zapier enables integration with over 3,000 different apps and we’ve only just scratched the surface of what you can do with Bloomerang and Zapier. We hope that you can find a way to automate your processes and work better with Bloomerang.
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