Managing IT is always a challenge, and if you’re a small nonprofit like the Catholic Community Foundation, the stakes are even higher. How do you further your mission with just a handful of people supporting your core systems? And how do you tackle the ever-present challenge of “doing more with less,” as you build a strong IT infrastructure capable of supporting business operations, a mix of systems (both on premises and in the cloud), backups for business continuity, and security in an increasingly dangerous cyber world?
For 10+ years, the Catholic Community Foundation has partnered with Sagacent Technologies to do just that, overcoming a series of challenges brought on by an ever-changing information-technology landscape.
About the Catholic Community Foundation (CCF)
Dedicated to supporting endowments, family funds, and legacy giving; the Catholic Community Foundation acts as a bridge between generous donors and effective ministry. It promotes Catholic philanthropy by educating people about donor-advised funds (DAFs), endowments, charitable legacy planning, and other strategic ways of giving. It makes grants to organizations and programs in the community. And it helps people turn their goals into philanthropic giving that has tangible and lasting impact.
“Inspired by our Catholic faith to do good in our community (Silicon Valley and beyond), we help people turn their personal goals for giving into a reality,” says Sean Finigan, Operations Manager. “We’re here to support whatever our donors support, promoting philanthropy in whatever form that takes.”
Sean has been with the Foundation for over 15 years, and has worked with Sagacent, its co-managed IT partner, for the last 10+ years (since ~2009). During that time, the world of IT has gone from relatively safe and straightforward to highly complex and rife with security risks. And with Sagacent’s help, CCF has gone from a primitive IT environment to one that is robust, agile, and secure—capable of supporting the Foundation’s ambitious mission without a hitch.
As Ed Correia, founder and CEO of Sagacent, explains, “When we first started working with CCF, individual computers weren’t connected and this meant that people weren’t able to collaborate effectively (sharing data, coordinating calendars, etc.) So, the first thing we did was to tie tools and platforms together for sharing and collaboration. Then the cloud came, and we worked with them to start moving systems from in-house servers to the cloud. We made sure that their technology was in alignment with their business goals, and they had high levels of security throughout this transition. Working hand-in-hand in a true partnership all these years, our teams are happy to report that Catholic Community Foundation has had very few computer problems, no breaches, and no lost data.”
The Sagacent/Catholic Community Foundation Partnership
As Operations Manager with a team of six people, Sean’s role includes financial oversight, internal controls, organizational effectiveness, process improvements, and key outsourced activities—including IT and security. To manage all of those moving parts, the Catholic Community Foundation needs a flexible and reliable IT infrastructure, one that is easy to manage, stays up-to-date, and is safe and secure.
Partnered with Sagacent “whom we consider a trusted partner, not just a vendor,” says Sean, CCF is now able to support a strong IT capability with very limited in-house resources. This partnership includes full access to Sagacent’s remotely provided services—integrated with its local resources for onsite capabilities—as well as cybersecurity services, backup and disaster recovery, cloud solutions, IT infrastructure management, and 24/7 monitoring with remote support.
Sean’s leadership and expertise within the organization has led to the successful implementation of these services and upgrades. “From very early on, Sagacent has been a great partner, helping us select the right software, strategize whether it was best to have servers in-house or move to the cloud, and—all along the way—making sure we have repeatability, efficiency, and security,” Sean says.
“The Sagacent team maintains a level of expertise that makes them knowledge leaders in the truest sense of the word.”
Sean Finigan, Operations Manager, the Catholic Community Foundation
“With Sagacent, the emphasis is always on creating an infrastructure that is flexible, efficient, easy to use, and scalable across the organization. They are also proactive about training, making sure we understand why we’re doing things the way we are, telling us about new MS Teams features coming out that we could use, and other new possibilities based on emerging technologies (laptops, work from home, hybrid environment, cybercrime, lean infrastructures). We have three main databases (grant management, financial, and customer-relationship management) with everything in the cloud, backed up and secure.”
Division of Labor
The Catholic Community Foundation takes advantage of several Sagacent IT services: helpdesk, any major IT purchases, laptops and monitors, password management, firewall, cloud, training, overall strategies, and—last but not least—security. “It would be overwhelming if we tried to do all those things ourselves,” Sean says. “Sagacent’s partnership keeps us grounded and our systems running, which frees us up to focus on our core mission within the community.”
“The Sagacent team has expertise and in-depth knowledge about the ever-changing world of IT. Every day presents different challenges and opportunities and Sagacent is on top of all of it. They can remotely monitor our systems, troubleshoot for us, go off to investigate and fix a problem, or educate us if the problem is user error. It’s a very efficient way to manage IT with a highly skilled, knowledgeable partner.”
As adoption rates and the benefits of cloud computing started to soar, CCF asked Sagacent to help them make this important transition. In short, they wanted to use platforms and programs that would support their business in the cloud. At the time, they were running on two to three in-house servers, which was costly in terms of hardware and support. “With this project, we first migrated email from servers to the cloud, migrated the donor database, then turned off servers,” Ed says. “Now they no longer have to pay for maintenance on those servers or have large periodic capital expenditures to keep them up to date when servers have become old and need to be replaced. Collaboration and sharing are easy, and their cloud environment is also much more flexible and secure.”
Work from home
When COVID hit, people needed to start working from home quickly and securely, and CCF was no exception. Fortunately, Sagacent already knew the best ways to keep a mobile workforce secure and productive—whether that involved remote licenses, new tools, more bandwidth, good habits to adopt, or bad habits to avoid. With Sagacent’s help, the Catholic Community Foundation was able to pivot quickly from the very start of the COVID epidemic to a work-from-home model without missing a beat. Whether it was work-from-home best practices for employers or work-from-home best practices for employees, Sagacent was at the ready with the roadmap needed for a smooth transition.
Sagacent also helped the Catholic Community Foundation move onto a continuous improvement path, embracing innovative new technologies to support the mission, adopting emerging best practices, and keeping up with new productivity tools and capabilities.
And with Sagacent’s extensive expertise in cybersecurity, the Catholic Community Foundation systems have avoided the many perils of cyber intrusions that make up today’s threat landscape.
“Sagacent doesn’t just offer cookie-cutter solutions, they truly partner with you to understand your business and help fuel your success,” Sean says. “We’re only six people, but they make us feel like we’re a big customer and important to them. They’re good listeners and they’re there to support you, wherever your future leads.”
The Sagacent Story
Sagacent has 23+ years of making IT safer and easier for its clients. It is not only unique because of its expertise and customer relationships, but also because of its stellar track record and team of highly skilled IT professionals. Because IT operations and security need to work together, the Sagacent team combines high levels of IT management and cybersecurity expertise. They thrive on change—always learning and growing to stay ahead of an industry that continually reinvents itself. And they really care about doing right by their customers.