Iona Senior Services adapts to provide ever-expanding services to a growing older population in Washington, D.C.
Iona Senior Services began in the 1970s with a single Washington, D.C., building. Named for a tiny Scottish island known for its community welcoming all people and traditions, Iona uses Blackbaud solutions to ensure that all older Beltway residents can access services when and where they need them.
Iona Senior Services launched decades ago with a goal of serving aging people in the Washington, D.C., area and with the foresight of a now-pressing need. “The entire nation is dealing with the question of how to support older people,” said Annual Giving Manager Rosie Aquila. “As more and more people get older, the question is, what support do we have available to older people?”
In fact, U.S. Census data shows that by 2060 the number of people aged 65 or older will comprise nearly 25% of the U.S. population—including nearly 20 million people at least 85 years old.
Iona has expanded and adapted since its beginnings in the mid-1970s—from a single clapboard building called Iona House into a comprehensive community center. Iona Senior Services provides residents across the Beltway region with resources ranging from day services to wellness programs and arts activities, plus a helpline connecting the entire United States. As Iona’s programming has grown increasingly robust, its engagement and fundraising needs have become increasingly sophisticated. And with Blackbaud as its partner, Iona is ready to meet the challenge.
Iona uses Blackbaud for solutions that provide the insights into supporters and tools to tailor communications and programming accordingly. Aquila uses Blackbaud’s flagship fundraising and relationship management solution to log every interaction and cultivate deeper donor connections and Blackbaud’s marketing solution to communicate effectively.
“The Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT® dashboard is very modern and easy for me to see and understand and use,” she said. “It’s also valuable to see where we are, year to date, on goals. In the past, we had to ask our database manager to report information to us. Now we have that information ourselves.”
Having the right tools not only moves Iona’s fundraising work toward larger goals but also toward a personalized donor experience—by examining how individual supporters interact with everything Iona sends. “I can pull up any appeal and see for myself how it’s doing,” Aquila explained.
With Blackbaud’s marketing solution, Iona can capture information about visitors and understand why people sign up for and read the organization’s successful newsletter. “We’re gathering a lot of information through Blackbaud Luminate Online,” Aquila said. “We’re able to have more robust segmentation, instead of sending one email to everyone on a list.”
The organization’s newsletter boasts a remarkable 43% open rate—a direct reflection of better segmentation that Blackbaud Luminate Online allows Iona to achieve. “Looking to the future, we certainly anticipate using data to better inform our decisions,” Aquila said. “We’re on the edge of a lot of that. We want to get to know donors better and cultivate relationships.”
With Blackbaud as a partner, Iona also built its first sustainer program with a simple form on the organization’s website. “Prior to having Blackbaud Luminate Online, if a donor wanted to give on a monthly basis, our database manager had to process the gift every month,” Aquila said. “It’s a time saver for our database manager and a time saver for the donor.”
Iona will rely on recurring gifts and faithful supporters, as it tackles not only a growing population of people in need of its services but the logistics of city life—from housing and transportation costs to the fact that some neighborhoods lack the necessary resources to serve their residents. “Our goal is to help people remain as independent as possible—secure and socially connected,” Aquila said. “Our vision for Washington, D.C., is that older adults are getting the services they need when they need them, and they aren’t on waiting lists. The services are equitable and accessible.”
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