Classy and Amazon Web Services: The Partnership That Protects and Powers Your Fundraising

5 min
William Schmidt
Will Schmidt

When a big giving day or fundraising opportunity comes around, you need to focus on creating campaigns, marketing messages, and driving donations. You shouldn’t have to worry if your online fundraising platform is going to sustain an influx of donor activity.

This is especially relevant with Giving Tuesday and the year-end fundraising period creeping closer each day. Last year Classy processed over $10 million in donations on Giving Tuesday, and just over $12 million on December 31. Both were record-breaking, but neither would have happened if Classy hadn’t stayed operational.

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In order for Classy to stay up and running, we make use of 30 solutions from Amazon Web Services (AWS) to power our core suite of fundraising products. As a nonprofit fundraising on Classy, you don’t need to do anything extra to take advantage of these services.

Below you’ll hear from Scott Jordan, Head of Nonprofit Strategy and Membership Organizations at AWS, and Arif Hoque, Solutions Architect for Nonprofit Organizations at AWS. Together, we’ll explore the details of our partnership, what it means for Classy to be part of their Nonprofit Competency Program, and how it provides you with a stable online fundraising platform through your most important online fundraising days.

The AWS Nonprofit Competency Program

Over time, AWS has developed the AWS Partner Network (APN), which is broken down into technical segments like Security, Content Delivery, and Database Services. Within each segment, different partners are certified with industry competencies.

These competency programs are meant to showcase the expertise and experience of members of the APN who have demonstrated technical proficiency and proven success in specialized areas. Most recently, they launched the AWS Nonprofit Competency Program and welcomed Classy as its inaugural partner.

If someone searches the APN for a partner in the “Fundraising and Operations Tools” section, they’ll see Classy as an option. Further, they can be confident in Classy’s efficiency because it’s been heavily vetted by the AWS Nonprofit Competency Program and proven to assist other missions similar to their own.

In order to receive the AWS Nonprofit Competency Program designation, Classy went through a rigorous technical validation and assessment around the security, performance, and reliability of our AWS solutions. This confidence in recommendation is due in part to the depth to which AWS screens new partners, which includes a technical review against the pillars of the Well Architected Framework.

The Well-Architected Framework

The AWS Well-Architected Framework was designed to help partners build the “most secure, high-performing, resilient, and efficient infrastructure possible.”

Image of Arif Hoque, Solutions Architect for Nonprofit Organizations

When we go through our well-architected review, we find there are a number of areas where our partners can improve the cost, reliability, performance, and security of their environment.”

Arif Hoque
Solutions Architect for Nonprofit Organizations

The framework consists of five pillars:

  • Operations
  • Security
  • Reliability
  • Performance
  • Cost optimization

Each pillar has its own set of checklists to help build a proper and working cloud infrastructure. Since every partner goes through this review and framework, this adds the benefit of consistency across competencies and recommendations.

Image of Arif Hoque, Solutions Architect for Nonprofit Organizations

The Well Architected Review helps us ensure our partners are well-aware and have implemented security, architecture, and optimization best practices.”

Arif Hoque
Solutions Architect for Nonprofit Organizations

Secure, Scalable, Trustworthy

One of the goals of our partnership with AWS is to provide the Classy community with a secure and scalable platform that maintains trust. Below, we’ll explore these three areas and show you how AWS helps us fulfill this charge and create a stable online fundraising platform.

Security  

Image of Scott Jordan, Head of Nonprofit Strategy and Membership Organizations

Anywhere important data exists bad actors are going to be interested in trying to get at it.”

Scott Jordan
Head of Nonprofit Strategy and Membership Organizations

Classy has the privilege of working with nonprofits across a diverse range of cause sectors. As such, we handle very sensitive data, like HIPAA-related healthcare data, credit card payment data, and personally identifiable information (PII) data that gets stored in the AWS Cloud.

For AWS, security is their top priority. After all, they manage some of the most highly regulated industries in the world and securing sensitive data is paramount to success.

Image of Arif Hoque, Solutions Architect for Nonprofit Organizations

We have a saying here at AWS that security is job zero. It’s at the basis of everything we do.”

Arif Hoque
Solutions Architect for Nonprofit Organizations

AWS also employs a shared responsibility model. On one hand, they operate, manage, and control components from Classy, from the host operating system all the way to the physical security of the services.

Classy then takes responsibility for other security elements, like the management of the guest operating system, application software, and the configuration of the AWS provided security group firewall. Together, both parties provide security and compliance for the cloud.

Image of Scott Jordan, Head of Nonprofit Strategy and Membership Organizations

Rob Alexander, the CIO of Capital One, got up on stage at our annual customer conference called AWS re:Invent. He said he believes [Capital One] can operate more securely on the AWS Cloud than they can in their own data centers.”

Scott Jordan
Head of Nonprofit Strategy and Membership Organizations

What’s more, AWS extends lessons learned and best practices from working with their large APN to all. That means what helped financial institutions, government organizations, and federal agencies secure their data now helps Classy secure your data.

Scalability

Classy can power your fundraising campaigns no matter how much traffic fluctuates on our platform. You can rest easy knowing we won’t buckle under spiky workloads.

For example, AWS offers services like Auto-Scaling. This is where a virtual server in Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instance scales up and down to meet the waxing and waning demand on the Classy platform.

Image of Arif Hoque, Solutions Architect for Nonprofit Organizations

If Classy has a high-traffic event, like Giving Tuesday, auto-scaling will allow your infrastructure to scale-up and meet demand at a moment’s notice.”

Arif Hoque
Solutions Architect for Nonprofit Organizations

There are other services as well, like Amazon Route 53, which allow Classy to do weighted routing with health checks. These services, and more, help automatically maintain performance through periodic, unpredictable, or continuously changing workloads.

Trust

Building and maintaining trust is just as important as security or scalability. Our nonprofit partners trust that Classy will remain operational, secure, and help them scale their impact.

At the same time, we trust AWS to help provide this stable infrastructure and environment for our Classy community. Finally, AWS trusts Classy to follow the shared responsibility model and do what’s needed on our end as well.

According to Scott, AWS is guided by a set of leadership principles, one of which is to earn trust from their partners.

Image of Scott Jordan, Head of Nonprofit Strategy and Membership Organizations

We have one million active monthly customers on AWS using a multitude of services that they can pay for by the minute, the hour, or in some cases by the nanosecond. What that means is we literally have to earn our customer’s business every second of every minute of every day, and you can’t do that without trust.”

Scott Jordan
Head of Nonprofit Strategy and Membership Organizations

Outside of things like the shared responsibility model, AWS also has Trusted Advisor which gives Classy transparency into how to reduce costs, increase performance, and improve security. Trust is born in the spirit of true partnership between Classy and AWS, and we pass that along to our dedicated nonprofit partners.

Image of Scott Jordan, Head of Nonprofit Strategy and Membership Organizations

We’re really excited about Giving Tuesday and look forward to making a big impact with Classy this year.”

Scott Jordan
Head of Nonprofit Strategy and Membership Organizations

Download the Guide to Giving Tuesday Now

Our partnership with AWS, the various ways we help each other, and our nonprofit competency designation means one thing for you: stability. And a stable foundation means you can focus on your mission, which is what matters most to us all.

Rest easy knowing that Classy and AWS have your back. We will work to provide you with an online fundraising environment that helps you raise the most money possible and create a lasting impact on our world.


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