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  • Non-Profit Success: How Children International is Streamlining Operations for Greater Impact with Microsoft Dynamics 365, the Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit, and HSO

Non-Profit Success: How Children International is Streamlining Operations for Greater Impact with Microsoft Dynamics 365, the Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit, and HSO

A global non-profit focused on helping children break free from poverty partners with HSO and Microsoft to modernize their data strategy, ERP, and fundraising and engagement, reducing technical debt


Children International, a prominent non-profit organization established in 1936, has successfully empowered more than one million children and youth to live independently and productively through impactful programs focused on health equity, education, life skills, and employment. Operating in countries facing significant economic challenges, such as Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Mexico, the Philippines, Zambia, and one community in the United States, Children International aims to break the cycle of generational poverty.

The Challenge

Children International partners with dozens of organizations around the world to deliver services. “Everything Children International is about, happens at our partner agencies. They are the ones on the ground that really execute and deliver this mission to their communities and to the children that they serve locally,” said Juliana Garcia, Director, Global Finance at Children International.

However, each of those organizations has historically used different processes and disparate, often outdated systems, creating siloed data, inefficiencies, and technical debt. To address these issues and ensure the continued success of global programs, Children International needed to consolidate onto a single, modern ERP solution.

The Solution … More than ERP

Children International made a strategic investment in modernizing their technology to improve impact. “In order to be more effective, we have declared as a strategic pillar that we would leverage technology in the form of being a data-driven organization,” said Bill Brewster, COO, Children International.

They further made the decision to go “all in” on Microsoft. Tim Bachta, Vice President, Global Information Technology at Children International, explained why: “The reason we went with Microsoft was because of their investment in technology for the non-profit arena. It started with the Nonprofit Accelerator and the Common Data Model and went on to the Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit.”

The next step was to find a Microsoft partner to support their ERP journey. They were recommended to HSO by another Microsoft partner because of HSO’s demonstrated and award-winning non-profit and ERP experience. According to Bill Brewster, “HSO from the beginning had a great methodology in terms of how to approach the project, how to do it in a way that limited the risk along the way that focused on the execution, the follow-up, the communication, the change management, everything that you need to have to do project like this well.”

After a comprehensive diagnostic, HSO presented a roadmap using Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance, and Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management. The solution also included HSO’s ERP for Public Sector (formerly DynamicsAdvantage for Public Sector), which integrates additional productivity features into Dynamics 365 for the efficient, reliable management of vendors, contracts, and procurement to reduce costs and ensure compliance.

A key component was ensuring that the system and the implementation process supported multiple languages. Danielle Mitchell, Controller of Finance at Children International, said, “We're implementing this in agencies around the world. We need training docs that are bilingual. We need a system that is bilingual. So it was really important that we found a partner that understood the capability of the system and then how it could best suit the requirements of Children International and its international partners.”

Ultimately, the solution would complete the end-to-end journey of sponsorship dollars by leveraging the inherent integration capabilities offered by the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform, starting with the consolidation of 13+ siloed finance systems into one global instance of Dynamics 365.

By bringing those disparate systems into Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply chain, a goal that every non-profit depends upon was reached. “One of the most important outcomes of this project is to provide that proof of concept to our donors,” said Danielle Mitchell. “By having one system with a consistent chart of accounts, consistent reporting, and that is so integrated, we'll be able to trace dollars coming into Kansas City (Children International’s headquarters) from our donors, make more efficient the use of those funds, and measure the dollars available for impact to the child in India, in the Philippines, in Africa.”  

Darwin Villavicencio N., Regional Controller, Latin America for Children International, agreed: “I am really excited about the advantages of the consolidation of the information, the advantages of the information we can share with our partners. The options that Dynamics 365 will open to us to report to our donors, the way we spend their funds. It was a dream, but now it's real.”

“By having one system, we'll be able to trace dollars coming into Children International’s headquarters from our donors, make more efficient use of those funds, and measure the dollars available for impact."

Danielle Mitchell Controller of Finance, Children International

But things didn’t end there

As with so many organizations undergoing significant transformation, finding the solution to the initial ERP challenge prompted a closer look at other areas, which presented more opportunities for modernization.

Rather than traditional donations and grants, Children International’s primary fundraising model is based on sponsorship. They had been using a legacy solution that no longer met the needs or scale of the organization, so they embarked several years ago on an initiative they called, “Core System Migration” (CSM), with the aim of consolidating philanthropy efforts on a common platform.

At that point, Children International implemented Fundraising and Engagement, part of the Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit and powered by Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales. However, over time, it became evident that the current overall CRM configuration was not meeting their requirements. It was also evident that their current partner did not have the ability to address their issues.

Having had success with the finance engagement, Children International asked HSO to conduct a CRM assessment. The solution involved upgrading to the latest version of Fundraising and Engagement, which has evolved into a platform and would be better equipped to align with Children International’s customized CRM side of Dynamics in addition to being more scalable, flexible, and future proof. It also brings to the table AI capabilities that assist in areas such as:

  • Data modeling for predictive forecasting of fundraising goals
  • Identifying donors most likely to donate
  • Deepening their engagement with donors based on CRM data

Once the new solution was in place, HSO performed a gap-fit analysis to determine where the functionality of the new technology could be incorporated into the existing Microsoft ecosystem and identify what needed to be rebuilt, enhanced, or removed altogether.

This powerful combination of technologies has provided the foundation for continued consolidation efforts around retiring legacy applications for a truly comprehensive platform, including marketing, sponsorships, global philanthropies through financial management, and program management across Children International’s agencies and regional offices in the field. “Leveraging those tools, AI, Cloud, Dynamics, all these things are going to help us empower our teams to do more,” said Tim Bachta.

Another big benefit: with a solution that aligns with the Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit out of the box, Children International will reduce the technical debt and ongoing costs around customizations.

Projected Results

These modernization engagements will dramatically impact Children International and the partners around the globe they depend on for providing their services to children and their families:

  • ​Phasing out legacy systems for efficiency and cost savings ​
  • Improving data accuracy and integration with a unified data source​
  • Increasing consistency and effectiveness through streamlined global business processes​
  • Optimizing resources with centralized procure-to-pay activities and improved resource allocation​
  • Strengthening oversight and visibility for better-informed, smarter decision-making​
  • Enhancing support for unique, critical fundraising processes through Fundraising and Engagement—layered on the existing Microsoft platform—with optimization of out-of-the-box features​ and AI-driven capabilities for predictive forecasting and identifying donors to focus on for deeper engagement
  • Providing comprehensive business support of diverse business functions through Dynamics 365:
    • Enabling global scalability by enabling international, multi-company, multi-site organizations​
    • Boosting user productivity through AI features and seamless Integration with Microsoft technologies
    • Creating a collaborative work environment​ with the assistance of AI-powered tools in Teams enabling innovation at all levels
  • Enhancing integration capabilities through ERP for Public Sector, HSO's proprietary intellectual property​

Watch Children International's Digital Transformation Story

At the forefront of fighting generational poverty, Children International is embracing digital transformation with the support of Microsoft and HSO to amplify its global impact. This video highlights the organization's strategic use of technology to strengthen its initiatives, ensuring sustainable development and empowerment for communities in need.

What’s Next: An Ongoing Partnership for Continued Innovation

With all that has already been accomplished, this is just the beginning of Children International’s transformation journey. A future roadmap includes several initiatives:

  • Other groups within the organization are currently evaluating Fundraising and Engagement for their needs.
  • Across the board, the organization is evaluating opportunities to add more CRM functionality and reporting enhancements
  • They are also evaluating Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights - Journeys for marketing. Like many Dynamics customers, the marketing tool Children International is currently using is well integrated into processes, but it has matured to a point where it’s time to make a change for improved, targeted, smarter marketing efforts.

Children International is excited about amplifying their mission through the adoption of innovative technology. The organization is deeply committed to the Microsoft “technology stack” and fully embraces the ownership Microsoft has taken in the non-profit space with the ongoing investment and technology releases for the Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit platform. They are also anticipating what can be accomplished through AI features integrated across the Microsoft platform—particularly when it comes to simplifying and streamlining staff workflows.

“The partnership with HSO is the biggest thing. It’s not a vendor, it’s a partner. Leveraging Microsoft, working with HSO, it allows us to align very well together to achieve our goal, which is ending poverty for good.”

Tim Bachta Vice President, Global Information Technology at Children International

The partnership between Children International and HSO was founded on the principles of collaboration and mutual support. HSO was and is committed to providing the right resources, challenging existing practices to drive positive change, and offering continuous guidance throughout the process. Together, they aim to create a transformative platform that will continue to advance Children International's mission.

Tim Bachta summed it up: “The partnership with HSO is the biggest thing. It’s not a vendor, it’s a partner. Leveraging Microsoft, working with HSO, it allows us to align very well together to achieve our goal, which is ending poverty for good.”

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