CDC Foundation’s New Technology Strategy Raises Millions

CDC Foundation’s New Technology Strategy Raises Millions

October 30, 2020

As organizations continue to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, foundations like the CDC Foundation are creating new technology strategies to raise millions.

Cloud for Good, a WealthEngine partner, is the largest consulting partner dedicated to nonprofits and higher education institutions. 

Cloud for Good’s Marketing Director, Jenn Tate, spoke for a webinar to explain how the CDC Foundation continues fundraising during the pandemic via its new technology strategy.

As partners, WealthEngine and Cloud for Good share the common goal of helping nonprofits create transformational value in their platforms. 

Tate says it best, “The WealthEngine platform is powered by half-trillion, yes, you heard that right, half-trillion data points, and uses proprietary learning science to create unique profiles for more than 180 million households and 250 million people in the US.”

This webinar also features Raj Khera, Executive VP and CMO of WealthEngine, Monique Patrick, C.O.O. of the CDC Foundation, Laura Croft, VP of Advancement with the CDC Foundation, and Laura Maker, Director of Professional Services with Cloud of Good. 

The CDC Foundation

The CDC Foundation is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit established by Congress 25 years ago. 

By using private funds, the CDC Foundation has reached lives across the world and mobilized millions of dollars in COVID-19 donations.

As the COVID-19 threat emerged in January, the CDC Foundation activated its Emergency Response Fund to mobilize private sector support to
address needs where government support was not available or available rapidly enough to meet the need. Donors facilitated
the rapid deployment of emergency resources to fill in the gaps to support CDC and State and local health departments on the ground.

  • Helping Under-Resourced Communities

The CDC Foundation focuses on supporting these groups throughout the pandemic crisis. As communities of color have been disproportionately affected by the virus, the foundation is working with partners to better understand and address health inequity issues brought forward by COVID-19, as well as provide on-the-ground support to meet crucial needs such as housing, clean water, handwashing stations, food and medical necessities.

The CDC Foundation’s Technology Strategy

Modernizing the CDC Foundation’s technology strategy has been an important undertaking, particularly as the organization transitioned from paper-based work to Salesforce.

Switching platforms allowed for communication between the team members and safe data storage. This proved to be a tremendous help when COVID-19 hit and the foundation shifted to virtual work.

Utilizing New Technology and Data

Salesforce allows the CDC Foundation to improve its workflow. New technology facilitates data analytics, data feeding through Netsuite, and even simple tasks like signing documents using DocuSign.

As for donor outreach and streamlining contributions, WealthEngine contributes to positive growth through targeted wealth screening. Within a couple of months, the CDC Foundation’s CRM grew from 42,000 to over 150,000. 

Data analytics have been instrumental in providing the CDC Foundation with background information on first-time donors, which leads to a targeted communication plan.

  • Cloud for Good’s Aid in Transition

Laura Maker discusses Raiser’s Edge Migration Accelerator and how the feature facilitates a smooth transition to Salesforce. This is implemented to work with the standard fields of Salesforce and Raiser’s Edge for common usage. It provides a starting point while acknowledging how data is mapped by both systems to ensure the information is used properly. 

Positive Impact on the Organization

Chart of how nonprofits have been affected by COVID


As Monique Patrick describes, “You can see in the middle, we’ve grown the organization…We’ve saved time with our reconciliations and our financial systems…It’s real-time, it’s quick, it’s at our fingertips, and we see that on a daily basis.”

With increased remote work, having this technology is pertinent. The CDC Foundation watched in real-time as this unfolded. These tools have successfully given us access to real-time information to inform strategy and increased our speed and flexibility to deploy emergency response funding to the area of greatest need.

Before COVID-19, the group on average raised approximately $70 million per year. To date, the foundation has raised over $260 million, with $160 million of this raised specifically to fight COVID-19.

The data found by WealthEngine’s Wealth Screening feature helps the CDC Foundation adapt during this time. With groundbreaking donation numbers, it’s clear to see how effective these advancements have been.

  • Giving Back to the CDC Foundation

As the group embarks on a second phase to tackle COVID-19, Laura Croft gives the reminder, “The next seven months are going to be more challenging than the last seven months.” 

Communities are suffering due to the pandemic, and the CDC Foundation continues to help. Its “Crush COVID-19” campaign aims to directly support immediate public health needs during this time. 

Innovative Event Fundraising

While the CDC Foundation is seeing a wave of interest during this crisis, Croft points out, “Again, going back to how we operated pre-COVID and then COVID hit…we needed to meet our donors where they were and talk to them in the way they wanted to be communicated with.” 

The foundation’s focus is on connecting with donors while providing support during the pandemic. Innovation in its strategy continues to lead to higher donations.

  • What is Cross-marketing?

Traditionally speaking, cross-marketing is the process of using partnerships to market philanthropic causes across different channels. With this strategy, the CDC Foundation raised more than $7 million dollars. 

The group also embarked on employee giving. This plan includes setting up micro-sites through the platform and online events for promotion. Cloud for Good also participated by partnering with the foundation through their own employee microsite to encourage employee donations.

  • Navigating Donor Fatigue

What is donor fatigue? Simply put, it is the slowing down of donations from past donors. With so much happening, donor fatigue is a serious problem that must be addressed.

Speaking for the CDC Foundation, Croft notes, “We have experienced a drop-off in donations…However, it’s understandable. As you were talking about earlier, people are tired of this pandemic. It’s been very difficult.” 

The foundation continues to strive to listen to and understand donors’ priorities. Effectively identifying the correct target audience and tuning its messaging accordingly is crucial for combating donor fatigue.

Cloud-based Organizations

The benefits and reality of virtual work


The CDC Foundation’s technology switch came when a need for cloud-based operations was essential. The implementation of user-friendly technology and an efficient workflow were driving forces for the transition. 

The CDC Foundation’s new technology strategy with Salesforce allows for an integration of all systems. This encourages the dissemination of transparent information for all staff to see, promoting better communication.

Analyzing New Data

A realistic understanding of high donations levels experienced by the CDC Foundation is crucial to sustaining these numbers. To wade through this data, the foundation relies on WealthEngine for wealth screening and additional donor information. 

Additionally, the foundation has focused on a massive data clean-up to keep information up-to-date. This is important for dealing with duplicate records because it helps maintain high-quality data.

  • Importance of Data Analytics

Prior to the foundation’s technology upgrade, data would remain stagnant for periods of time. Now, with software integration, this data is analyzed and put to use quickly. 

As Patrick states, “We wanted to be able to see where they are, are we reaching the health disparate populations without funding? Now we’re starting to see all that to make really crisp-clear decisions going forward. We’ve had to do this overnight, but it’s been amazing work.”

Data analysis breaks down the best strategy for targeted communication. This information helps you decide when to reach out and which messages to convey. 

Role of Wealth Screening and Donor Matching

With a surge of new donors, hitting the correct next steps is crucial to cultivating relationships. WealthEngine’s WE9 platform facilitates this process, enabling organizations to make informed decisions in cultivating fundraising strategies.

Using the donor matching tool during wealth screening, WealthEngine gives you a 90% match rate to your list of clients. What does this mean exactly? If you have 10,000 contacts, WealthEngine is able to find a 90% match, or 9,000 names, from your list.

Up-to-date Analytics and Accessible Dashboards

Clean data helps your contact list stay fresh. Knowing the most recent financial activity of your donors makes it easy to maintain personalized relationships. 

Combining WealthEngine with Salesforce creates constant data refreshment. These platforms understand that money is always in motion. They utilize predictive models and analytics to give you the best donor outreach strategy.

Customization of these platforms is great for companies to help with personalization. WealthEngine tailors these predictive models to your donor base. Salesforce has adaptable dashboards that can be customized for any occasion, which increases efficiency.

  • Continue Moving Forward

The surge in new donors requires personalized messages to nurture relationships. This strategy helps overcome donor fatigue and motivates donors to give at their capacity. 

With WealthEngine’s platform, you can identify a donor of $25, while helping them reach their wealth potential of $2,000. It is all about cultivating these relations to increase potential.

Automating Processes and Staying Flexible

With the sudden shift to remote work and the increased reliance on technology, automation of daily processes has been imperative.

Salesforce allows the timeline of daily work, like signing folders, to shorten. Moving these tasks to a virtual-based platform frees up time and allows for distanced work.

  • Embrace Flexible Solutions

When asked about lessons learned from the pandemic, Patrick shares her thoughts, “Stay nimble and flexible and be creative of how you can be even more efficient.”

Tough experiences from COVID-19 can be used to benefit your organization. Learn from these times and embrace virtual adaptations to excel in your brand’s mission. 

Budgeting for a Technology Overhaul

While switching completely to new technology can be beneficial, it does require budgeting to get things done.

Start with a plan, like the CDC Foundation did, and work your way through each department. The foundation started with its Human Resources platform and continued through its financial and fundraising teams.

Raising funds to support the core mission can be helpful as well. If your core mission requires advanced technology, allocating and fundraising for these overhauls can be to your organization’s advantage.

Data Migration Strategy 

The flow of data migration


Having a clear strategy is key to a seamless transition. Start with the discovery phase. Assess how each aspect of your organization works to understand the best steps to take and continue from there.

Before going live, try a mock data conversion. Migrate the data exactly as planned but into a test environment. Once in this setting, final tweaks can be made for the true switch.

Adaptability and Leveraging Relationships

Leveraging your client, vendor, donor, and influencer relationships can help spread your mission and increase visibility during this time.

For example, the CDC Foundation was approached by an online gamer, Jack, after the death of his grandma due to COVID-19. He reached out to donate his annual birthday fundraiser earnings and was able to raise $500,000 for the cause.

Messaging in the Time of Virtual Meetings

Industries are facing unprecedented times and most organizations have quickly shifted to virtual workspaces. Effective communication between employees, as well as other organizations, puts an emphasis on appropriate messaging.

Newsletters are spreading awareness about the nonprofit’s impact. Brief virtual meetings cover these efforts as well. 

Virtual meetings allow the CDC Foundation to listen to donor’s needs. This allows the foundation to hear donor concerns and share ideas for improvement.

Trying out virtual events and continuing a strong online presence helps ease the transition to remote fundraising. Follow the lead of successful brands, as your organization finds the best way to navigate virtual galas.

Embrace new resources, and continue learning through this time. WealthEngine is here to help you. Events like the WE Prosper 2020 Summit can help you navigate the new normal.

Cloud for Good’s Success Stories

Like the CDC Foundation’s technology strategy, other organizations have seen positive impacts from the implementation of these technologies. 

The National Aquarium has used technology to recreate the experience of its facility, even when visitors were restricted from touring. This includes live feeds of exhibit loops on their website, Facebook live sessions of aquarium tours, and Q&A sessions with staff.

The LGBTQ+ Community Center saw a 40% increase in demand for services during the pandemic. This required rapid response and technology has allowed for new avenues to open for quick connection and support.