Case Study

Case Study | Studio Museum’s Move to a New Ticketing System

Shannon Abitbol


Shannon has over 15 years of experience working with nonprofits in areas of operations, technology solutions, and fundraising. Her areas of specialty include system needs analysis, systems assessment, systems selection, business process documentation, and change management.
February 08, 2023

Above Photo: Last Look weekend at The Studio Museum in Harlem, January 14, 2018. Photo by Will Ragozzino.

“JCA’s guidance was essential for us as we navigated the process of selecting a new CRM, one that would accommodate our needs transitioning into a larger museum building. They had invaluable insights throughout the entire process and skillfully organized comprehensive demos with CRM candidates. On top of that, they are simply amazing partners to work with!” – Kevin Chappelle, Project Manager

The Studio Museum in Harlem was founded as an arts and cultural institution focused on both the advancement and legacy of art from artists of African descent. Since 1968, Studio Museum has served as the nexus for these artists locally, nationally, and internationally, including work that has been inspired and influenced by Black culture.

Studio Museum is opening a new building in Fall 2024—the first building in its history created expressly for the needs of the museum and its communities. With this large (and exciting!) institutional change came the need to obtain and implement a ticketing and admissions system. Previously, museum admission was through a suggested donation that was tracked manually. With a new building and impending opportunities for expanding programming and attendance, the museum recognized the need for a system to not only sell tickets and memberships, but also to better engage its patrons. After speaking with several museum colleagues about their needs, Studio Museum was referred to JCA, to help unpack and define their needs, and select the best technology path forward.

Visitors at “Alma Thomas” during Open House New York at The Studio Museum in Harlem, October 15, 2016.

Current State of Studio Museum

To work toward building opening and ticketing system selection, JCA had to understand the museum’s current state. JCA started working with the Studio Museum in Fall 2022 to identify the museum’s business processes. The beginning phases were focused on understanding departmental focus areas and goals across the entire organization. Conversations centered around people, process, and technology—and the intersection of these three areas of the museum to uncover needs for ticketing and overall constituent engagement.

Defining Needs for a Ticketing and Admissions System

JCA performed a needs analysis to define the museum’s needs for a new ticketing and admissions system through a series of discovery interviews with Studio Museum’s key stakeholders. JCA interviewed 24 staff members from across the museum, including Development, Visitor Services, Communications, Education, Public Programs and Community Engagement, Curatorial, and Finance. Initial interviews revealed primary goals for the museum, including:

  1. Selection of a ticketing system to provide a high-level guest experience while meeting museum operational needs. The museum needs a system that offers a smooth, easy ticketing experience for guests, while still being accessible to visitors who may not have access to mobile devices or current technology. The ease of ticketing experience for guests must also provide ease of use and operational efficiency for staff.
  2. Identifying a solution that will provide a comprehensive view of a patron’s relationship to the museum. Studio Museum needs to be able to bring all data together to better understand how its patrons interact with the organization as a whole and make informed decisions that support museum engagement goals.
  3. Streamlining business operations and reducing duplicate work. Staff were managing huge amounts of data in spreadsheets and performing many manual processes in their daily work.

Review of CRM (and Other) Systems

In the context of discussing ticketing system needs, conversations also led to discussion of the museum’s development CRM system, Raiser’s Edge NXT (RENXT), and their email marketing platforms, MailChimp and Online Express. The discovery interviews helped to identify each group’s needs and business processes, as well as their pain points and areas for improvement around RENXT and the ancillary systems used to support the museum’s work. Discussion of current systems were focused on determining if current solutions are the optimal systems to meet their present and future fundraising, marketing, and museum engagement needs.

RFP/Demonstration Process

After analyzing the business workflows and related needs of the museum departments, JCA wrote an Assessment Report, which included a set of observations and recommendations for improvements to business processes. The report documented a comprehensive set of business requirements based on the discovery. JCA delivered the report to the museum with a recommendation to review both ticketing and CRM systems. This was supported by a Marketplace Review (or short-list) of potential products for Studio Museum, based on their business requirements.

After reviewing the report, Studio Museum decided to evaluate potential systems to replace its legacy fundraising CRM system, RENXT, along with identifying a ticketing solution. JCA and Studio Museum then developed Request for Proposal (RFP) documents for the system selections, using the detailed requirements checklist included in the Needs Assessment report. Ultimately, the system selection process became a search for an integrated CRM solution, or set of integrated systems, that could manage Studio Museum’s customer-facing operations, including ticketing, admissions, public programs, development, membership, education programs, special events, retail, and communications.

Studio Museum invited several qualified vendors to submit proposals, evaluated them against the museum’s specific requirements to narrow the choices to the systems to best fit their needs, and then invited two vendors to meetings for scripted demonstrations of their solutions. Studio Museum held multiple follow-up sessions with the top two candidates to gain a deeper understanding of the systems’ functionality to make the best choice for the entire organization.

Making the Move: What’s Next

The museum determined that both finalist systems can increase their operational efficiency and holistic viewpoint of constituent engagement with the museum. The museum is in the process of making final decisions on a system to begin implementation in time for the grand opening of the building in 2024. With either solution, the Studio Museum is confident that their new system will meet their growing needs, best prepare them to accommodate guests in the new space, and increase their ability to engage patrons in museum exhibits and events.

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