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Case Study: Payment Solutions for Nonprofits in Salesforce

The Boston Marathon Modernizes with Salesforce and Chargent

Boston Marathon logo

The Boston Athletic Association (BAA), home of the Boston Marathon, worked with Salesforce consultants at Attain to move from an in-house solution to Salesforce and Chargent. In the video below, Chris Pifer (Attain) walks through how they improved processes, keeping them lean and focused on the runners.

The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon. It’s the sixth largest marathon in the world with 30,000 participants from 100 countries. Their charity program raises $36 million every year. They manage 10,000 volunteers over race weekends for the marathon. They're a global organization, globally recognized.

To begin, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA), which organizes and holds the Boston Marathon yearly, considered what it would look like to implement Salesforce for the Boston Marathon. Most important was the participants’ experience when online race registration opens. Thousands of people wait to register, and they all want to be the first one to submit their registration. Creating a good user experience was paramount.

Another piece to consider is that the Boston Marathon is a small nonprofit organization run by a dedicated 30-person team. Any solution had to be easy to use and manage.

Limited by Outdated and Legacy Systems

Most of the systems used to track participants were designed in the ‘90s, based in Microsoft Access, ColdFusion, and Access 2000. All the technology was handled by two outside consultants. They were small, independent consulting firms.

Instead of the Salesforce “360 view,” the BAA had a “six-degree view” of their constituents. Every year, they would clone the database and start fresh, resulting in 60 Access databases that the team was consolidating. Only through anecdotes did they know somebody was a volunteer, an athlete, a VIP, a member of the media, all at once.

And just like many small nonprofits and other organizations, when in doubt they would defer to email or Excel, or workarounds when they couldn't get the system to do what they needed to do.

Pifer notes that, “The limits of the tools they were using became the limits of the organization.” As a consulting partner, Attain came in to recommend a solution. They decided to focus on core, standard Salesforce functionality and fill in key gaps wherever possible with AppExchange solutions. Chargent became a critical piece to accept payments along with declarative tools. Essentially, they only needed to expand the user interface of Salesforce.

Chargent Solutions for Accepting Online Payments

Registration and Bulk Payment Utility

When a participant registers for the marathon, they fill out the online payment form. Their credit card is authorized but not charged, because the marathon needs to verify that they have actually run a qualifying race with a qualifying time within the last two years.

The card authorization is run through Chargent. After going through the necessary verifications, the team needs to capture the charges on 2,000-4,000 cards in bulk all at once. Processes were created using the Chargent API and the Salesforce reporting API.

When all participants have been verified, they simply write a Salesforce report, and it goes through and charges all the registrations in that report.

Accepting Payments from Countries Outside the AVS

Many participants are from countries that do not participate in the credit card address verification system (AVS). Attain worked closely with Chargent, creating a process to complete address verification for USA billing addresses. For addresses not in the USA, a result was returned and payment processed. Fraud was not as much of a concern since participants needed to have run a qualifying marathon to register for the Boston Marathon.

Create Your Salesforce Payments Solution with Chargent

Chargent focuses on making it simple to take payments or donations anywhere in Salesforce. Our customizable app has been used in a wide variety of configurations for many different types of organizations, including recurring billing and failed payments. If you’re struggling with old, outdated legacy systems, contact our team to discuss the right solution for your process.

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