• The Seattle Foundation


  • Nonprofit

Technologies used

  • Microsoft SharePoint
  • Microsoft .NET Framework
  • Blackbaud Financial Edge
  • Blackbaud NetCommunity
  • Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge
  • Fusion Labs GrantedGE

The Seattle Foundation relied on an aging website that was difficult to update and provided donors limited information on nonprofit organizations. It wanted to attract a broader online audience, and make it easier for existing donors to make giving decisions. With help from redtech, the Foundation rebuilt its website to integrate several back-end accounting, financial, and customer relationship management systems with a reimagined user experience. The new site provides donors with a wealth of information on potential gift recipients. In May 2012, the site supported the Foundation in raising $7.4 million in 24 hours through its annual GiveBIG campaign.

The Challenge

Founded in 1946, The Seattle Foundation is the largest community foundation in Washington, with assets in excess of $600 million, and awarding nearly $50 million in grants each year. While the Foundation has historically served high net worth philanthropists, it now strives to support philanthropy at any level and provide existing and new donors with better tools and information on which to base their giving decisions.

The Foundation also wanted to appeal to younger donors, who are accustomed to accessing information online. “We wanted to share our expertise and knowledge with the donor community to provide broader context on which to base giving decisions, “says Jared Watson, Senior Vice President, The Seattle Foundation. The Foundation’s goals were hampered, however, by a website that wasn’t responsive to its needs. The out-of-date technology didn’t allow the addition of features such as rich, interactive search or a nonprofit profile database. The Foundation wanted a modern website with a redesigned fundholder experience that its communications department could use to further the organization’s goals.

The Solution

We worked hand-in-hand with The Seattle Foundation’s existing team of user experience and visual designers to architect a new website, which is based on the Microsoft SharePoint platform. Our developers created the site from the ground up, carefully enhancing SharePoint’s out-of-the-box framework with custom Microsoft .NET components. We integrated and connected the Foundation’s financial, content, and nonprofit fundraising management systems with the new site, whereby fundholders can log in with their existing credentials to create grant recommendations and nonprofits can create and maintain organization profiles.

We also used the SharePoint Business Data Catalog and SharePoint web parts to give donors (or fundholders) the ability to view their grant and contribution histories online. The site takes advantage of SharePoint’s native publishing features, making it easy for nontechnical users in the Foundation’s communications department to update and maintain site content. Finally, the site also enables visitors, who aren’t registered Foundation fundholders, to make one-time credit card donations.

The Results

With help from redtech, The Seattle Foundation reimagined the giving experience, providing donors with flexible tools for managing donations and comprehensive information on which to base their decisions. The new site helped the Foundation foster community-wide philanthropy and bring greater visibility to its efforts.

“ redtech helped us implement our vision of creating a go-to resource for charitable giving and fostering philanthropy for donors of all giving levels,”—Jared Watson, Senior Vice President, The Seattle Foundation. “It has dramatically increased our brand awareness and been a force in creating an exciting new tradition of philanthropy—GiveBIG—in our community. ”

Better communication tools boost fundraising

The SharePoint custom development work we did allowed us to create a site that fully reflects the Foundation’s image, gives users the most personalized experience possible, and encourages donations. In fact, in May 2012, the Foundation raised $7.4 million—in one day—during its annual GiveBIG campaign. This was more than twice the amount raised in the prior year. During the 24-hour period, more than 37,800 individual online gifts were made, attracting donations from all 50 states and 23 foreign countries. The site performed flawlessly.

“redtech helped us implement our vision of creating a go-to resource for charitable giving and fostering philanthropy for donors of all giving levels,” says Watson. “It has dramatically increased our brand awareness and been a force in creating an exciting new tradition of philanthropy—GiveBIG—in our community.”

Flexible giving options encourage participation

Donors can now make choices from the website to allocate funds to a specific nonprofit, to address immediate and specific regional needs, or to donate to an “issue area” that contributes to the health of a community, such as health and wellness, neighborhoods, or arts and culture. More than 1,200 nonprofits are searchable from the site’s Giving Center, with search refiners that allow users to specifically target nonprofits by type or audience served.

Modern site draws attention, requires less maintenance

The personalization aspects and transparency of information on the new site have made it easier for the Foundation to appeal to a younger generation of donors. This audience takes advantage of the site’s connections to popular social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to spread excitement and publicize giving opportunities through word of mouth. In fact, the Foundation’s GiveBIG online campaign was named “Best Use of Social Media” for 2011 by Seattle Magazine.

Not only has the new website laid the groundwork for more active participation in fundraising, it also is easier to maintain. Since the site was launched, the Foundation has used only a fraction of the budget it originally allocated for site maintenance—funds that can be repurposed toward the larger goal of marketing and driving gift giving.