Your organization’s reputation and supporter relationships are always at stake. But when it comes to national giving days, like #GivingTuesday, the stakes are even higher. In 2016, #GivingTuesday raised $168 million—up 45 percent from 2015.
But what if you made a fundraising push on a giving day like this, and your technology caused a lag in page load time? What if certain pages were unavailable for minutes? Or even hours? According to Kissmetrics, a one-second delay in page load time has the potential to cost your organization 7 percent of its conversions.
On Classy alone, nonprofits raised $6,476,867 on #GivingTuesday 2016. If our platform had caused a lag in page load time, or had gone down, countless organizations would have lost thousands of dollars, important to their life-changing work. The damage would also put future dollars at risk. A negative donor experience impacts relationships in the long term, and tarnishes an organization’s reputation.
To ensure our technology fits the bill on a high traffic day like #GivingTuesday, our development team at Classy takes special precautions to maintain the highest industry standards.
As you decide who to partner with for your large giving day campaigns, like #GivingTuesday, it’s helpful to understand how the right technology protects against certain system failures. To explore this topic, we sat down with Classy’s CTO Mike Young to discuss what makes our platform ready for anything.
The Right Technology
Built to Meet the Highest Standards
The Classy platform is built on Amazon Web Services (AWS). The use of this cloud services platform allows us to help thousands of nonprofits knock important giving days like #GivingTuesday out of the park. Because our development team builds with only the highest standards in mind, we’re able to offer a scalable, efficient, reliable, and secure solution.
Imagine an accordion as it expands and contracts.
Classy understands there’s an element of seasonality to fundraising. As your nonprofit experiences different levels of giving throughout the course of the year, Classy’s platform is built to scale to meet higher demands in traffic.
For extremely high-traffic days, like #GivingTuesday, the system auto-scales. We may put in additional resources manually for added assurance. But as we build on AWS, which has unlimited capacity, we’re able to handle abnormal traffic.
Imagine a grocery store with seemingly endless checkout lines.
The 15 lines at the grocery store all serve the same purpose. They work together in parallel to ensure customers have a fluid and positive experience.
Because there are so many lines, if someone takes a lunch break, the system doesn’t crash, and customers can still check out in a reasonable fashion.
AWS allows our platform to function similarly. If an individual part failure occurs, which can be expected to a degree from time to time, it doesn’t stop us. The system is built to have no downtime—the “checkout lines” are always manned and open. We strive to ensure users have very few interruptions and deliver a high-quality experience for both you and your supporters.
Imagine a back-up generator kicking on when the power goes out.
The AWS data center is designed the same way. Because there are redundancies, if one thing fails, the platform is covered.
Physically, AWS operates out of buildings in different locations so that if something happened in one of the buildings, the others would ensure all remains well.
These redundancies protect against the most common types of failure such as an individual machine going down, or a rack going down, which is reasonably common. They also protect against major catastrophes, such as a large storm or natural disaster.
Rather than troubleshooting technology failures, this preventative measure helps to avoid them completely.
Imagine closing a porthole (oval-shaped, sealable door) in a submarine when a leak springs.
The door seals and contains the damage, protecting the rest of the ship and isolating the threat.
The Classy platform is also compartmentalized. Commonly referred to as a Zero Trust Network, if an intruder was able to access one spot, they would have a very limited ability to attack our system because our firewalls—our “portholes”—protect the rest of our platform.
For example, WordPress is known to be frequently attacked as a platform. That’s why we sectioned it off from the rest of our network. If an intruder gains access, their reach would be limited—the damage, isolated.
You can also think of the Classy API as the “main hatch” to the entire submarine. The Classy API uses the widely adopted OAuth 2.0 and OpenID Connect standards for authentication and authorization.
As an additional layer of security, we also store credit card information on behalf of the donor.
Classy manages donor credit cards through a PCI-compliant, third-party ‘vaulting’ and tokenization service. This provides customers with best-of-breed security while Classy provides a world-class recurring donor management experience.
By using ‘tokens’ instead of real credit card data in our code, Classy minimizes the chance of that credit card data being hacked and stolen for resale. Security experts would consider this state of the art. Classy itself will be PCI Level 1-certified by end of summer 2017.”
CTO at Classy
With the right technology in place, you can feel free to focus on your campaign strategy as you gear up for huge days like #GivingTuesday.
Ready for 2018?
This article was written by Ellie Burke, writer at Classy.org. Ellie is a former farmer who also writes young adult science fiction and fantasy.