ACF gains insights and promotes visibility of their impact using Azure
reduction in upgrade costs
more efficient data analysis
of remote workers relocated to the cloud
August 30, 2021


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The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) is Australia’s peak national environmental organisation. ACF is a community of over 700,000 people who speak out, show up and act for a world where forests, rivers, people, and wildlife thrive.

Founded in 1965, ACF has been a powerful voice for the environment for more than 50 years. It is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organisation focused on advocacy, policy, research, and community organising.


The Australian Conservation Foundation have several Customer Relationship Management (CRM) data repositories which house critical information of over 700,000 people. Their two primary CRMs, Blackboard and Nation Builder gathered information on their supporters and donors which in some cases is the same individual. These systems were disparate and had no integration and did not allow effective reporting & analytics. They sought a solution that would enable a “single view” of their supporters, and the ability to gain greater insights into their supporters and what they needed.

Multiple off the shelve solutions were assessed, but it was decided that a tailored solution was required. One that would enable machine learning, future growth, and the capability to experiment on analytics.

“We went out to market with the brief to design and built a data lake which pooled the information from all our CRM’s – after scouring the market we came to the conclusion that Rapid Circle was the ideal choice – they had the balance of capabilities and experience to rapidly execute and achieve our desired outcomes.”

– Benedict Chiu, Head of Data and Technology, ACF


After refining their future data vision, ACF engaged Rapid Circle to develop a technical solution that met their requirements. With the opportunity to guide ACF’s architectural blueprint, Rapid Circle began by assessing the current state of ACF’s data hubs and then co-designed a long-term solution with ACF’s Data Operations team with a clear implementation roadmap.

Given the nature of ACF’s datasets and technologies, ACF chose Microsoft Azure as the preferred cloud services data platform due to ACF’s inhouse capabilities and the opportunities to integrate closely with the Microsoft 365 suite already being used in ACF. Rapid Circle focused on using Azure to configure and utilise its own data lake best practices which would enable the future growth of the platform easily. Utilising Azure data lake services, this set the foundation for use with Power BI reporting that ACF had used previously. Power BI integrates natively and provides virtually real-time reporting on the ACF customer base and a level of insight not previously available.

The use of Azure data lake services and Power BI ensures ACF is positioned for future objectives including semantic modelling, deep learning, and real time analytics.

“We were able to say this is what we are after, and what outcomes we wanted and Rapid Circle would go away and build it! Then we would have regular meetings and updates which was very reassuring”

— Benedict Chiu, Head of Data and Technology, ACF


The work undertaken by Rapid Circle gives ACF a clearer picture of its donors and supporters, and in turn has let ACF gain insights into what their preferences are that drive investment and awareness decisions. It has also allowed ACF to see the size and growth of their supporter community and enables them to better measure their impact – ultimately to promote environmental causes and lobby stakeholders for the benefit of the environment and the broader society.

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ACF and Rapid Circle have continued their partnership by recently completing stage two of the project, where Rapid Circle integrated a new Blackbaud analytics platform with ACF’s Azure data platform to provide timely supporter analytics and shorten its insights cycle.

“We will continue to partner with and build our relationship with Rapid Circle, and we are very happy with the data and engineering services provided. We certainly look to Rapid Circle to be a trusted partner and authority on Microsoft and Azure services.” 

— Benedict Chiu, Head of Data and Technology, ACF

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