When you think of Napa Valley, what comes to mind? If Napa Valley Vintners has anything to say about it, you think of fine wine.
The California trade association promotes Napa Valley “as one of the finest wine growing regions in the world,” according to CFO Steve Tradewell. The organization markets the region on behalf of its 500 member wineries.
The association is also the parent organization of a charitable arm formerly known as Auction Napa Valley. The nonprofit focuses on supporting the local community through deep investments in health and educational programs.
Rethinking nonprofit software and strategy
For 40 years, Auction Napa Valley had relied on one multi-day event every June to raise the entirety of its funds for the year. When the coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, it disrupted the nonprofit’s entire basis of fundraising. The organization took the opportunity to rethink their charitable efforts.
“We didn’t just want to continue what we’ve always done. We wanted to evolve,” Tradewell said.
They relaunched the nonprofit as Collective Napa Valley, a 5013c with a completely different approach to fundraising. The new startup planned to solicit annual contributions and put on several smaller events throughout the year.
To back up its new fundraising concept, Napa Valley Vintners hired Boyer & Associates to set up a Microsoft nonprofit software system that could manage their donor program and event ticketing.
They started in November of 2021 with an ambitious go-live goal of Jan. 1. First, they needed a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to manage donor members at various levels. Next, they needed a system that would allow those members to register for and pay for events. Finally, they needed to be able to send members the necessary documents on their tax-deductible donations.
Microsoft nonprofit software: Fundraising & Engagement
Napa Valley Vintner’s existing software was a fully customized solution, even down to the infrastructure, and extremely difficult to maintain. Staff knew they needed a robust CRM, something that could handle complex event ticketing and a way to manage memberships.
They looked at top software solutions for nonprofits and ultimately decided to go with a Microsoft-based solution. Tradewell said Microsoft’s steep discounts on nonprofit software and experience in the industry were big selling points. They also liked the fact that the software had several out-of-the-box components but could also be customized as needed.
“We wanted the benefits of customization without the hassle of managing the backend and infrastructure,” he said.
Boyer helped Napa Valley implement Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit, specifically Fundraising & Engagement. The Microsoft nonprofit software helps the organization manage its donor members, event registrations and payments and more. Boyer also created a Power Apps portal that allows the nonprofit’s members to access their account, register for and pay for events.
Benefits of an evolving nonprofit system
“Year one was definitely about just surviving,” Tradewell said. “We had to go from 0 to 60 in an incredibly short period of time. The fact that we did that we’re immensely happy about.”
For its first year, Napa Valley had a virtual wine experience in the spring, a barrel auction in the summer and a vintage celebration dinner in the fall. As part of its relaunch strategy, Napa Valley allowed members to join for free and participate however much (or little) they wanted.
Its new membership model and event format — and the corresponding new software — was a trial run. Because of the organization’s short turnaround, the goal was simply to have “a minimum viable product,” said Tradewell.
How the nonprofit will operate in the future has changed somewhat from what they first envisioned. It will continue to evolve as they determine the best methods going forward. As such, the software too will be tweaked to better align with their needs.
“We have a core infrastructure that can be built on now,” Tradewell said. “We made it through the first iteration and now we can be more thoughtful for the second.” He believes the second version of the software will be a much more streamlined system.
Boyer: A responsive nonprofit partner
“Boyer has really stepped up in terms of meeting our very aggressive timelines,” Tradewell said. “There’s a consistent structure of communication, check-ins, updates, good follow through and an open-door policy.”
Because of the organization’s aggressive timeline, items frequently came down to the last minute. Tradewell said the Boyer team “made personal sacrifices to meet our deadlines,” unlike any other vendor he’s used.
“I always had that confidence that things were going to get done,” he added.
Tradewell and his team relied on Boyer’s expertise to ask the right questions, determine what was needed and then visualize potential solutions. The result was a fully operational, flexible Microsoft nonprofit software system that can adapt as the nonprofit continues to evolve.
“We have the fundamentals of an ongoing infrastructure for managing a donor community and giving them access to benefits commensurate with the level of their participation. That’s what we wanted and that’s what we will have,” Tradewell said.