Case Study

Success Story | How Edlavitch Jewish Community Center Chose the Right CRM Software for Future Growth

Anne Hargaden

Principal Consultant

Anne helps clients with organizational CRM assessments, system selections and implementations, systems integrations, business process analysis, software needs analysis, project management, and more.
August 03, 2021

© The Edlavitch Jewish Community Center of Washington, DC. Photo by Lloyd Wolf. Volunteers preparing food at DC Central Kitchen as part of the EDCJCC’s Annual Day of Service D25.

The Edlavitch Jewish Community Center of Washington, DC (EDCJCC) serves as a vibrant hub in the nation’s capital that engages individuals and families of all backgrounds through its cultural, recreational, educational, and social justice programs.

The EDCJCC is home to Theater J, the nation’s largest Jewish theater, and JxJ, which presents arts programs throughout the year, including the Washington Jewish Film Festival and the Washington Jewish Music Festival. The EDCJCC also has a fitness and wellness center, a preschool, and camps for children. It provides a wide variety of programs for babies, children, young professionals, families, and seniors. From Jewish educational classes and workshops to volunteer events and service projects to social outings, the EDCJCC presents over 200 public programs annually.

© The Edlavitch Jewish Community Center of Washington, DC.
Yemen Blues performs at the 17th Annual Washington Jewish Music Festival.

Due to the diversity of its programs, the organization uses a number of disparate and unconnected systems to manage its operations. In addition to back office inefficiencies, there is a very limited view of the EDCJCC patron from any one system. By not being able to identify a patron’s true involvement across the organization, the EDCJCC cannot further engage its patrons and supporters to more effectively target and serve its audiences.

The EDCJCC recently completed a major renovation of its building. At the same time they were planning the physical renovation, staff realized that their technology needed a renovation too. The EDCJCC asked JCA to review and analyze the current systems and to make recommendations, enabling a more unified CRM platform through integration, consolidation, or replacement of the existing systems. The vision was to consolidate into as few systems as possible, without significantly sacrificing functionality.

Understanding EDCJCC’s Needs

JCA began its work in 2019 with a CRM Needs Assessment to understand the EDCJCC’s requirements, with a focus on fundraising, membership, marketing, and program and event management. The Needs Assessment started by holding discovery interviews with key EDCJCC staff members from departments all across the Center. The interviews helped to identify each group’s needs and business processes, as well as their pain points and areas for improvement.

JCA then wrote an Assessment Report, which included a set of observations and recommendations for improvements and replacements of some systems and business processes. It also proposed options for how systems could be integrated in the future. It defined the EDCJCC’s strategic goals to empower it to better serve the community:

  • Enhance systems for a more comprehensive view of a patron’s relationship
  • Deepen audience engagement
  • Streamline business operations

The Assessment Report also documented a comprehensive set of requirements and a list of systems to consider for CRM, fundraising, fitness membership, email marketing, and event/venue management.

“We approached the building renovation with a goal towards creating both accessible and modular spaces which will allow our diverse community to grow and engage more deeply than ever before. When it came time to revise our CRM, the same goals applied—we wanted a holistic system to accommodate everybody (or as close to everybody) as possible, while deepening our understanding of community engagement and donor support” said Craig Mintz, EDCJCC Chief Financial Officer.

Finding a Fitness System that Fits

Based on JCA’s recommendations, the EDCJCC first began a system selection process for software to manage its fitness center. The requirements for fitness membership and class registrations are highly specific and could not be met by a typical fundraising CRM; they needed something more. JCA and EDCJCC staff prepared a Request for Information (RFI) and issued it to a group of vendors who had been identified as appropriate candidates. The vendors submitted their proposals, and JCA helped the EDCJCC team evaluate the submissions to determine the ones that were the closest match to the Center’s needs. Together, the team narrowed it down to three candidates.

The three chosen vendors were invited to demonstrate their product to select EDCJCC staff. In advance of the demonstrations, JCA and the EDCJCC team had prepared demonstration scenarios related to the fitness center’s specific business requirements. The vendors were provided the scenarios prior to the meetings to give them the opportunity to prepare. After the demonstrations, JCA guided the EDCJCC team to update the vendor evaluations, to reflect the knowledge they gained from the demonstrations about how well each system could meet their requirements.

© The Edlavitch Jewish Community Center of Washington, DC.
Children’s aquatics classes at the Laszlo N. Tauber Family Foundation Swimming Pool.

The EDCJCC chose MindBody Online as its fitness center software in early 2020, but the implementation was delayed due to the COVID-19 crisis and shutdown. Work on implementation began in the spring of 2021, and EDCJCC went live with MindBody Online just weeks ago!

“MindBody Online will allow our members to book appointments and update their billing information easily and directly online, either through our website or mobile app. We’re also able to be more strategic in our approach to marketing to prospective members. As we begin to increase capacity and services in our Fitness Center, MindBody Online will help us cultivate new customers and respond to the changing needs of the community” said Tena Howell, EDCJCC Director of Membership.

Selecting the Right CRM System

The selection of a new CRM system was also delayed by the COVID-19 crisis. The EDCJCC and JCA resumed work on the CRM selection process in early 2021, but because nearly two years had passed since the initial needs assessment, the requirements needed some updating. The COVID-19 crisis changed some of the EDCJCC’s business processes, particularly the addition of presenting events online, and these new requirements needed to be documented. Then the EDCJCC and JCA followed the same selection steps as in the fitness system selection, but with CRM requirements and CRM candidate systems:

  • Created a Request for Proposal (RFP) and issued it to selected vendors
  • Received vendors’ submitted proposals and evaluated them to determine those that seem to best match the EDCJCC’s needs
  • Invited leading candidates to demonstrate their systems
  • Wrote demonstration scenarios and allowed vendors to prepare
  • Held demonstrations
  • Updated vendor evaluations
  • Performed reference checks and other due diligence activities

The CRM selection process focused on systems that would support fundraising, event and program registration, and communications management. That’s a lot of material to cover in demonstrations! With four candidates, it was a big investment of time, but a very valuable one. The scripted demonstrations allowed the team to see the systems in action and to envision how they would work for the EDCJCC staff in day-to-day operations.

© The Edlavitch Jewish Community Center of Washington, DC.
Interfaith Family program celebrating Shabbat at the EDCJCC.

Decision Time

After multiple follow-up conversations with the vendors and reference checks with current clients, the EDCJCC made its decision. It has chosen Traction Rec and Salesforce as its new CRM.

Emily Jillson, EDCJCC’s Director of Development and Marketing noted “After reviewing all the demos and talking to other references, the choice became clear for us to move forward with Traction Rec/Salesforce. The team at Traction Rec/Salesforce has really created a customizable system tailored to suit the unique and multi-faceted needs of JCCs and YMCAs. Additionally, they continue to be supportive and responsive to the changing needs of nonprofits and we’re delighted to be joining a robust and active community of JCCs that have implemented the system and are evolving in step with it.”

Implementation of Traction Rec and Salesforce will begin soon, and JCA will continue to work with the EDCJCC throughout that process. JCA is excited to partner with EDCJCC and support them as they transform their technology and achieve their strategic goals to better serve their community!

Are you interested in learning more about Needs Assessment, System Selection, or CRM Implementation? Please reach out—we’d love to discuss options with you.

Contact Us

Sign up for our JCA Newsletter to receive the latest tips from our consultants on fundraising best practices, optimizing your technology, and more.