National Forest Foundation to modernize grants, fundraising, finances with Microsoft industry solutions

November 30 2021

When the National Forest Foundation made the decision to move ahead with a multi-system upgrade using Microsoft-based business applications, the nonprofit organization was bringing along a growing team of employees, a wide ranging portfolio of initiatives, and a network of donors, volunteers, and beneficiaries.

National Forest Foundation, or NFF, leads forest conservation efforts and promotes responsible recreation, working as both a foundation and an active participant on projects across the US. The team has grown over the last 20 years from three employees at the outset to nearly 50 today, along with a budget that now approaches $30 million and a broad set of partners and stakeholders spanning government, foundations, corporations, and individuals. The organization is embarking on the launch of three new business systems starting at the end of 2021 that will give them a Microsoft-centric architecture based on off-the-shelf applications, partner-built solutions, and some customizations. They have invested in Dynamics 365 Fundraising and Engagement, the nonprofit solution built on Dynamics 365 Sales and part of the Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit, along with plans to launch a partner-built grants management solution and a Dynamics 365-based nonprofit accounting solution.

Together, these solutions will modernize an aging systems infrastructure, and NFF leaders told MSDW they are aiming to go live on all the new systems by end of September 2022.

"Every time you have multiple staff entering data, you have not only the chance of data corruption, but also just not using staff efficiently at all," said Mary Mitsos, NFF's president and CEO. "So the really exciting thing is that it will now be caught up to where we need to be to make it easier for staff and more efficient for us as an organization."

"It's so hard for our leadership, our board to get a top level view of all of our work on the ground to get the big picture," added information systems analyst Torrie Burwell. "And so that's the other thing we're really excited about with having integrated databases."

Diverse engagements

NFF work directly on projects, but they also fund work done by other groups and manage the financial and legal responsibilities of complex grants and funding sources.

Burwell explained that as the organization has matured, the need for more integrated data and systems to manage grants, donors, and finances has become clear. The process- and data-related pain points the team experience on a regular basis helped define their solution selection criteria as they explored various software vendors.

About Jason Gumpert

As the editor of MSDynamicsWorld.com, Jason oversees all editorial content on the site and at our events, as well as providing site management and strategy. He can be reached at jgumpert@msdynamicsworld.com.

Prior to co-founding MSDynamicsWorld.com, Jason was a Principal Software Consultant at Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC), where he implemented solutions, trained customers, managed software development, and spent some time in the pre-sales engineering organization. He has also held consulting positions at CSC Consulting and Monitor Group.

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