“Percolator was absolutely lovely to work with, so patient and understanding. They understood us and helped us select systems and processes that would give us the flexibility to deal with our global complexity.”

About the International Plum Village Community

The Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation works to continue the mindful teachings and practice of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, support mindfulness practice centers around the world, and engage in Sangha (community) building in order to foster peace and transform suffering in all people, animals, plants, and the planet. Thich Nhat Hanh was a global spiritual leader, poet, and peace activist, revered throughout the world for his powerful teachings and bestselling writings on mindfulness and peace.

The foundation is a division of the Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism, named after the first monastic practice center Thich Nhat Hanh founded in the West. It is also part of the International Plum Village Community, a network of eleven official mindfulness practice centers and over 1,000 local Sanghas (communities of practitioners) worldwide.

The Challenge

The Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation and International Plum Village Community touch millions of people internationally as they share Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings of mindfulness and peace through practice centers, community building, and other resources.

The foundation supports the wider community with fundraising and communications efforts. This is no small feat. As the community has grown organically, processing donations from 103 countries in 46 currencies and communicating with followers of every stage of the mindfulness journey across a multitude of platforms, the complexity of the work has grown with it. Staff at the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation and within the International Plum Village Community were using numerous siloed databases to house information about donors, donations, attendees of retreats and other events, followers who had opted in to receive newsletters, and other constituent records.

As a result, they sometimes spent many hours sorting duplicate data and trying to understand a donor or constituent’s activities across multiple touchpoints. They also risked sending fundraising appeals to donors who had very recently given or sending too many newsletters to contacts because staff couldn’t see everything in one place. It was also tricky for staff to make sure that the right language and payment options were available to every donor. And keeping up with laws like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) could be very time-intensive.

Overall, the foundation and community wanted to provide a more unified experience for both their constituents and their staff, and to make better decisions with a more full picture of their data. They decided to move their fundraising and communications into a Salesforce system.

Denise Nguyen, executive director of the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation, reflects, “We're dealing in a global nature with multiple languages, multiple currencies, and also with people in different stages of their mindfulness journey. We have people who are starting out to learn more about mindfulness or meditation or just read a book by Thich Nhat Hanh.

“How do we best serve people who are in that part of the journey versus people who have been practicing mindfulness for many, many years and are looking to go deeper? It was hard to see that. We’re taking the first steps to get a clear picture so we can serve people better.”

The Solution

The Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation and International Plum Village Community met with our team at Percolator Consulting to map out their different tools and business processes for a gradual transition into Salesforce. This mapping was a very large step, given the global nature of the organization. Getting everyone aligned was an important part of making their system work in the long run.

Nguyen notes, “In terms of what Percolator recommended for Phase One, I thought it was a really smart and wonderful approach of starting with low-hanging fruit, or starting small, with things that didn't have as many barriers to them. Just making it very realistic and practical.

“I really appreciated their recommendations. They helped us see that there were several steps we needed to do before we could reach what we wanted. I thought, ‘Oh, why can't we–?’ and they made it very clear why we couldn't jump to that, that we needed to start putting these bricks down first and make sure there was consensus.”

We recommended a phased approach to migrating the International Plum Village Community and the foundation into Salesforce. We built a donor and constituent management solution for them using the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) as the core.

In the first phase, we tackled online donation processing for the United States and parts of Europe, helping migrate them away from DonorPerfect and onto Fundraise Up. We also coordinated their newsletter communications for the United States and France, moving them to Mailchimp for their primary email broadcast system. In total, this involved migrating over five million donation and communication records!

There are still more databases to integrate over time, but the organization now has a strong foundation to build on.


We partnered with the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation and International Plum Village Community to take the first steps in unifying their complex global fundraising and communications operations.


5M donation and constituent records migrated
103+ countries donating
2+ hours saved per email campaign

“My overall feeling of working with Percolator is just warm and fuzzy. We would meet with them daily in standups. So when the implementation was over, we all went through withdrawals of not seeing them! That's how much we enjoyed working with them.”

The Results

The Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation and International Plum Village Community have been excited to streamline their donor experience with their new payment processing system in Fundraise Up. Nguyen says, “It's much more automated. And it gives us flexibility to add different language components. Mainly, donation processing is so much smoother and it's all in one database now!”

In addition to the language possibilities, they have been very happy with the offerings of Fundraise Up for online currencies and banking. “We’ve gotten positive feedback from donors and monasteries in terms of the flexibility for donations,” Nguyen adds.

Some payment processors can be credit card-centric in their payment options, but Fundraise Up allows for options like PayPal, Apple Pay, SEPA, and direct debit to better fit how different donors do banking within their countries.

The communications migration to Salesforce has been another positive for the organization. Now email subscribers can go into a brand new preference center and select options based on regions and interests, which are not just for a single monastery or newsletter. As well, new subscribers enter their information via a single signup form, instead of different forms that lead to separate databases.

Staff can now sort their subscriber lists to send messages on regional events and other updates. This has saved staff at least two hours per email sent.

The foundation also has seen an increase of 24,780 new subscribers since the migration. As one subscriber wrote, "I am very pleased that you are doing separate emails during the month which will provide retreat and event information separately from resources to support mindful living. This will help me focus on the teachings and practices.”

In other good news: they haven’t gotten complaints about the transition! Sometimes database migrations can lead to temporary issues or breakage of processes, but their followers have had a seamless experience.

Unlike other organizations, the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation and International Plum Village Community measured their success not just in growth, but if there was happiness, harmony, and mindfulness, both internally and externally, while working on the implementation. These values stem from the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh. They found that Percolator aligned with them very well in both their technical needs and in these other important measures of success.

Nguyen reflects, “When I talk about harmony — it was very easy to work with Percolator. They were very patient and understanding. They were just absolutely lovely. First they helped us with the Discovery period, to unearth various systems, how they interacted and connected and where there were gaps, and they helped bring things to consider with their knowledge of nonprofits, fundraising, databases, and communications.

“They really took the time to understand our systems and helped build solutions that could really meet our needs. They really helped us be more aware of ourselves and all of our various systems and how they could best interact and work in coordination.”

The Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation and International Plum Village Community can now offer a more standard, flexible experience for international donors and subscribers, while reducing manual data management and understanding their own network of systems better.


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