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Case study: Pan-Mass Challenge

Pan-Mass Challenge Chooses Acquia and Drupal to Keep Brand Fresh, Empower Fundraising

Case study: Pan-Mass Challenge

Lean Nonprofit Can Now Successfully Compete for Donation Dollars and Confidently Deal with Traffic Spikes

The Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) raises more money for charity than any other athletic fundraising event in the country, this year donating a whopping $41 million dollars toward cancer research and treatment. Run by a lean nonprofit organization with only seven full-time employees, PMC’s Senior Vice President, David Hellman, is no stranger to wearing a number of hats—including management of the PMC’s website.

The Challenge

“More than half the money PMC raises comes through the PMC’s website, which shows just how critical our web presence is to our success,” Hellman said. “Fundraising is a huge part of our online presence, and keeping our brand fresh is equally important. But making even minor changes to the site was a major hassle that required calls to our already overburdened IT staff. We weren’t able to manage the site easily and keep it up-to-date without extra intervention.”

Ensuring that the PMC site functioned well during times of heavy traffic was also imperative. “We do almost one million pageviews a year, and half of those occur in the 5 to 6 week period leading up to the event,” Hellman explained. “Site problems at that time would be devastating.”

“Seeing how widely Drupal is used and the number of freely-developed modules that were available to us was extremely attractive,” Hellman said of PMC’s decision to go with Drupal. “Its ease of use and efficient resource management were also big draws. Additionally, cost was certainly a factor. Since 100 percent of donations we receive go straight to Dana-Farber, we rely on fees to offset all our overhead expenses. Drupal was the best option for us all around.”

The Solution

PMC’s Drupal site serves as the customer-facing front door of its website. Because Drupal is able to integrate smoothly with PMC’s legacy .net fundraising and event management software, site visitors enjoy a cohesive experience across platforms.

Additionally, Drupal’s ease of use allowed Hellman’s team to present the PMC brand’s best possible face. “Being able to publish photos and videos from Saturday’s gala on Monday morning is a positive new experience for us,” Hellman said. “It’s great to be able to seamlessly manage our brand without having to call tech support. Our team members are able to access and update their specific areas of the website, preventing internal bottlenecks.”

The Results

The 2014 PMC event was a rousing success. “We recently presented a check to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for 41 million dollars,” Hellman said. “More than 26 million of those dollars came through the PMC website.”

Additionally, Hellman notes that site changes that used to take days or weeks to implement can now be accomplished almost instantaneously. “We’re more likely to experiment and try something new instead of shying away. Drupal’s ease of use has given us the freedom to take informed chances with the site,” he said.

After completing the 2014 PMC event, the organization migrated its site to Acquia Cloud. “Right now we’re at a point where we feel safe and secure about the site—something we didn’t feel before we moved the site to Acquia Cloud,” Hellman explained. Acquia Cloud’s always-on support and guaranteed site uptime helped Hellman feel confident in his decision. “Knowing that help is available 24x7 and that any concerns we have will be quickly addressed is a great relief,” he said.

Right now we’re at a point where we feel safe and secure about the site—something we didn’t feel before we moved the site to Acquia Cloud.”
David Hellman
PMC’s Senior Vice President

Company Information

Pan-Mass Challenge
Nonprofit founded in 1980
100 percent of bike-a-thon fundraiser donations goes to cancer research
Success Enabled with...
  • Drupal
  • Acquia Cloud