Allocating scarce resources is a test many nonprofits face every day. These are decisions that make or break organizations.
Mark Albertson filed this report for Silicon Angle:
“…instead of spending that money to improve IT operations, what if the same amount could be used to let a 13-year-old girl with a heart condition be a ballerina? Or allow a 15-year-old boy with cystic fibrosis to experience what it’s like to be a Navy Seal?
Suddenly, a “no-brainer” decision becomes a little tougher. Yet, this is exactly the kind of question that Bipin Jayaraj must continuously wrestle with in his role as vice president and chief information officer of Make-A-Wish Foundation of America. “It takes close to $10,400 to grant a wish,” Jayaraj said. “As an IT leader I would probably pick the upgrade, but as a volunteer I would say no, it needs to go to the kid.”
In 2013, the nonprofit granted the wish of a five-year-old cancer survivor in San Francisco to be Batkid for a day. Batkid became an overnight national media sensation that sparked tremendous interest in Make-A-Wish, but the foundation’s IT infrastructure could not handle the sudden spike in donations, and the website crashed. Millions of dollars in new revenue were lost.
Make-A-Wish has spent the time since then to consolidate its distributed IT infrastructure and moved workloads to PhoenixNAP’s private cloud platform. The foundation also uses VMware Inc.’s vSphere compute and NSX networking.
“We had to move all of the data from the 60 chapters, applications, everything into a centralized data location that we manage right now from the Make-A-Wish national office and provide as a service back to them,” said Jayaraj, who recalled his pitch to the chief executives running the local branches. “Let me do all the operational minutia of IT, leave it to me, and I’ll handle it for you. I’ll let you go do what you do best, which is granting wishes.”
How much data does it take to make a child’s wish come true? About 200 terabytes, according to Jayaraj, and his organization relies on Veeam Inc.’s Backup and Replication for Cloud Data Management to keep critical information always available when needed. This process and its efficiencies of scale have allowed the foundation to increase the amount of time employees can work on granting wishes. The cost savings also became apparent after shedding 60 different IT organizations and consolidating operations into one. “What are we selling?” Jayaraj asked. “It’s emotions and stories; that’s our data. That’s huge for us.”