Customer Testimonial: MDA



Hi, I’m Mike Kennedy. I’m Chief Financial Officer of Muscular Dystrophy Association.

MDA is about empowering people living with neuromuscular diseases to live full, productive lives. We’re making progress for people living with muscular dystrophy, ALS, and related neuromuscular diseases.

In the past seven years alone, 15 new drugs have been approved by the FDA.

Our advocacy program raises a collective voice for inclusion for people living with disabilities. In addition, MDA is providing substantial research funding, and support for over 153 care centers and hospitals across the US. Most importantly, provides an annual summer camp for kids with disabilities at no cost to their families.

MDA was founded in 150. Like any legacy nonprofit organization, keeping up with technology and infrastructure, it always takes a lower priority. MDA had an antiquated and disparaged front and back-ended system.

When arrived here at MDA, it was clear that the investment needed in technology would provide substantial operational improvements and cost savings. The key challenge, though, for me at the time, was selecting the right solution for not just our current situation, but for years to come, and how rapidly we could put this architecture into place to achieve those efficiencies.

Well, as I went through the discovery process of what technology solutions were available to me, Certinia stood out to me both as a solution and as an organization. Their solution allowed me to not only fix individual modules of the end-to-end process, but also allowed me to take on the entire front and back-office process, and create a one-office concept. In addition, I was highly impressed with the Certinia organization, from the highest levels to the account executives. They helped me find the solution as their focus was not just on selling me a product but helping me find a single platform solution.

One of the earlier decisions I made was to get away from that old, legacy patchwork technology platforms and go to a single platform. That single platform was Salesforce, and Certinia was the financial system backbone to that.

The key benefits of a single platform are to increase the speed to make data-driven decisions, to integrate your operational actions with your financial outcomes, and reduce the data transmission errors. Certinia allows me to see the full financial picture of the organization and make those data-driven decisions to fund our mission.

The Certinia solution allows MDA to quickly pivot due to factors like a pandemic.

Certinia has allowed the executive team to make detailed decisions around every corner of our operations, from fundraising, from mission delivery, and then operating expenses. Having my financial information with Certinia in a Cloud-based environment allows MDA to continue to have information when the 2020 pandemic shut us down, and our ability to operate in our offices, and presented us with a dilemma of over 60% of our fundraising from our in-person events went away.

Our benefits now go beyond just managing through a crisis. It has allowed us to reset how we operate. Coming out of the pandemic, where MDA now has substantially reduced the cost to raise a dollar, increased the portion of our spending towards mission activities, and reduced our overhead in excess of $13 million a year.

Having a cloud-based solution, MDA can now reap all these benefits in a virtual working environment.

The next phase, now, is to take a look at combining your actual results into an improved rolling 12-month planning process. This would allow MDA to not only have a solid historical perspective it has today, but also helps us predict our results going forward.

I look back, and our successful implementation has brought three key aspects every CFO desires to have: have your house in order, creating end-to-end processes that provides substantially reduced costs and reliable transactions; have information-sharing, financial information on all aspects of your organization, presenting in a timely way that enhances business decision-making; and, most importantly, influence. Having a finance organization that now can influence your management teams to make timely and important, better business decision-making.

As I look back on the successful process we went through, and I think about what I could share to make it better, I leave you with these lessons learned.

Leadership takes courage to make decisions and do something new and different. It takes belief in what you are doing and conveying that belief to those impacted by the change. It takes a degree of risk-taking, as it is required to move your organization forward. Plan well and don’t fear the disruption of change, as it is the only way to continue to succeed.