Nonprofit Outgrows its Former IT Solutions


Passim, a vibrant nonprofit arts organization in the heart of Harvard Square, provides live musical experiences for both performers and audiences, nurtures artists at all stages of their careers, and works to build a dynamic music community. It does so through its legendary listening venue, music school, artist grants and outreach programs. Each facet of the nonprofit, however, has its own homegrown IT solution, noted Steve Wishengrad, principal at Data Collaborative, who recently attended the strategic technology planning session there facilitated by Deborah Elizabeth Finn.

There’s FileMaker Pro for fundraising and constituent management running on a Mac, QuickBooks running on a PC, and an online ticketing solution operating on yet another system. Excel is the glue being used to try and sync everything together, Steve said, but the import/export process is very cumbersome.

In short, Passim is at the technology crossroads experienced by many nonprofits whose initial IT solutions can no longer manage the growing demands. He and Deborah helped the Passim team, headed by Executive Director Dan Hogan, brainstorm about whether the current IT budget and outside consulting support is sufficient.

They discussed finding a CRM system with good API. The right CRM might be able to connect with a good ticketing system, Steve said, or this may be an opportunity for a custom program. They will tap a tech-savvy Passim board member to be project manager through the process. They’ll lean toward a CRM that has more of a fundraising bent rather than constituent management one, as that is where the greatest need has been identified.

After the consult, Dan wrote, “You two were wonderful to donate your time and energy in consulting with us on our database issues, which certainly are many. You've helped us focus on what is most important and what we need to do long term. I'm hoping we can build a good chunk of money into our capital campaign to unify our databases as much as possible.”

Deborah complimented Passim on having the best document she’d ever seen stating where the organization was in terms of its current IT status. This preparation made the entire consultation process more efficient and effective, she said.

"Passim is a mighty force creating a thriving local music scene. To do that, they rely on a small staff that is highly competent, and on a tech infrastructure that is not quite up to the task. It's amazing how much the team accomplishes now, and it will be exciting to see how much more they will be able to do when the right tech tools for the job are successfully integrated," Deborah said.

Good work! And next time you’re in the Boston area, check out who’s playing at Passim’s concert calendar.

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