Before switching to Virtuous, Rainforest Foundation US (RFUS) used a combination of Network for Good and Giftworks for fundraising. They ran their donation pages and campaigns through Network for Good and used Giftworks for their CRM.
Instead of helping, the CRM made things more difficult. “Half of the things were not quite working. We had to work around the platform. We were not tracking a bunch of things because the system didn’t allow it,” Development Operations Manager Viviana Briseño explains. She felt the system was out-of-date, with no evidence it was going to improve any time soon.
RFUS has existed for more than thirty years, but it has experienced rapid growth since 2019, when world attention became focused on Amazonian forest fires, along with an increased interest in climate change. “Our individual giving especially started growing a lot,” Viviana says. “It became more evident that we needed a proper platform.”
As the development team increased communication, major gifts fundraising, and recurring giving, they needed an all-in-one platform that would help them use their donor data to build relationships. They chose Virtuous to be their growth partner.
With Virtuous, the team at RFUS has a clearer view into their data. “We appreciate the ability to track where donors are coming from and to properly segment how donations are coming in. We can see the difference in our emails, because we can track it,” says Viviana.
“It’s definitely an improvement from what we had before,” she says. Being able to see a full picture of donor engagement, from email opens to giving history presents a fuller picture, with more options for how to use the data.
With her previous platform, Viviana felt like the software was abandoned. “It felt like they were letting it die. Like it was just going to drift slowly and you had to jump ship at some point or sink with it.”
With Virtuous, the experience was different; Virtuous releases new features every month. “I think that’s one of my favorite things,” Viviana says. “Virtuous really is listening to what we need and I can see those things happening. I’ll be thinking, ‘Why can’t Virtuous do this? I’m going to suggest that,’ and then I’ll get the email of what’s coming next and see that Virtuous is doing it.”
Virtuous is more than a CRM, it’s a partner to help nonprofits grow. Growth requires working out not just platforms, but processes and people, too. RFUS didn’t only make a platform change when they switched to Virtuous.
“We decided to add to our development staff, because we realized that there were a lot of things that needed to be in our CRM, even if it’s time-consuming,” says Viviana. “That was needed whether we used Virtuous or not. But it was a very good justification. If we really wanted to make the best of this, we should have enough staff. Because Virtuous allows us to capture all this information, but you also have to be ready to use that data.”
“We created two plans,” Viviana explains. “One is on how we are bringing in all new data. How are we creating the system? How are we going to categorize everything? At the same time, we’re running a parallel program of going back and cleaning up at least the last two or three years of data so it matches the new system we’re setting up. In our previous platform, it was a mess. We had all these different tags and groups that had developed throughout the years, and so we needed to clean, and clean, and clean.”
The RFUS development team also created new processes to bring more team members into using their CRM. “Our system before was that I managed the CRM and everybody came to me for reports and questions. Then we realized that would not be the same case now, because we were growing and there is so much to learn about Virtuous,” says Viviana. “I needed my team to also learn some of it, because if they were going to wait for me to learn everything, it was going to be a very long wait for them.”
Having data is important, but the real key is how you use it. “Right now, we’re deciding on the workflows and automations that are going to work for us. I think we can actually save time, after we get it set up,” says Viviana. “ I can see already that there is a lot of potential. There is a learning curve, but it has great potential.”