Sprouting Success: Naples Botanical Garden Blossoms with a New CRM

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.
March 22, 2024

Change is hard. It’s even harder when you know you need it but don’t know where to start, what your options are, or what you need most. As your organization grows, you may notice that your current CRM (constituent relationship management) system isn’t keeping up with your needs. Maybe it’s struggling to handle the increasing amount of data, lacking crucial features, or simply feeling outdated.

It’s tempting to stick with what’s familiar, but when these signs start to show, it’s time to consider your options, as Naples Botanical Garden did in 2022.

The Blossoming Garden

Founded in 1993 by a visionary group of local plant enthusiasts, Naples Botanical Garden is a world-class botanical garden located in the southwest corner of Florida on the Gulf of Mexico.

Over the years, the Garden expanded and completed its master plan in 2006, evolving into a thriving destination with various themed gardens, research facilities, and visitor amenities that attract over 260,000 annual visitors.

Ready to Grow

Naples relied on their legacy system, Raiser’s Edge 7 (RE7), to manage relationships and help the Garden grow. RE7 fulfilled the Garden’s needs for many years, but in 2022, they started experiencing signs that they were outgrowing the system.

“We had pushed our existing legacy CRM to its limits for reporting on membership trends and major giving tracking needs,” said Brian Russo, Naples Botanical Garden’s Director of Membership & Annual Giving. “This led us to research a more robust CRM to help us continue to grow our major giving and membership programs in the future.”

Naples asked JCA to help them explore their options for a new or upgraded system. The process started with a full Needs Assessment, which is an in-depth assessment that helps organizations align their technology with their organization’s strategic focus.

During these sessions, JCA discovered:

  • RE7 was no longer meeting Naples’ needs.
  • System misalignment led to extra work due to manual processes and scattered data sources.
  • Naples was satisfied with their ticketing system, ACME, as it was meeting all of their ticketing and membership needs.

Assessing the Path

After the Needs Assessment, Naples moved forward with a System Selection to review their options for a new CRM system. Though Naples was happy with ACME, they reviewed both CRM and all-in-one CRM and ticketing options.

With JCA’s support, Naples thoroughly documented their functionality needs for a new system, from fundraising to membership to public programs, and communicated these needs to vendors through an RFP. Proposals helped Naples see how their needs could be best met. Then they reviewed each system through demonstrations and objective review, and finally – decided on a new CRM as a team.

Making the Choice

Due to the range of system options and their comfort with RE7 functionality, Naples chose Raiser’s Edge NXT (RE NXT) as their new system. They originally envisioned moving to an entirely different platform, but objective review of their options helped them confidently decide that what they needed most was an upgrade.

Upgrading from RE7 to RE NXT allowed Naples to make the best use of their deep knowledge of RE7 while modernizing and enhancing its functionality.

The Path to Implementation

After the decision was made, JCA supported Naples’ migration from RE7 and implementation of the new system. Following the migration, JCA worked with the Garden to:

  • Brainstorm process improvements using new browser-based tools for prospect management and event-related tracking.
  • Evaluate departmental reporting needs and create new custom dashboards and insights to give leaders real-time data.
  • Document new protocols for constituent management, including members and donors.

JCA helped Naples prioritize their decisions for the new system, provided enhanced RE NXT training for staff, and led users through system testing to make sure the system worked as they needed and expected. This included connecting with the vendor to make system enhancements to best support their successful RE NXT use.

“The choice of partnering with the JCA Team on our CRM selection process was invaluable,” said Russo. “Their insights on industry options and guidance on determining our organization’s core needs created a clear roadmap for the selection process. From start to finish, their assistance allowed us to select the best option for our growing organization.”

A System to Grow With

RE NXT offers Naples Botanical Garden increased functionality in automated acknowledgments, managing major donors and their gift cycles, and increased reporting capabilities for data-driven decision-making.

Most importantly, the more intuitive, modern design of RE NXT empowers staff to create dashboards and reports that show progress and growth—and where their growth can take the garden in the future.

In 2024, they opened the Evenstad Horticulture Campus. Custom designed for the garden, this campus will allow for the enhancement of the garden’s 170 acres and the development of nature-based solutions to environmental challenges, including the conservation of tropical and subtropical plants.

Embracing Change

Deciding to make a change is hard. But when it comes to your CRM, embracing change means you can explore solutions that offer more advanced tools tailored to your organization’s specific needs. This shift is essential for improving donor engagement, streamlining operations, and achieving better outcomes.

By embracing this transition, you’re ensuring that your nonprofit can adapt to the evolving landscape and continue making a meaningful impact in your community. For more about this topic, read 5 Reasons to Break Up with Your Legacy CRM System.

Every organization is unique, and the path toward better constituent relationship management looks different for each organization. JCA is here to support you through every step, from evaluation to implementation. Your CRM is the foundation of your work, and we can help ensure you have the right tools for your organization’s growth.