Published Apr 12, 2024

Breaking boundaries: How the CDC Foundation handled 5x transactions with integration



3 key takeaways

  • Before modernizing, the CDC Foundation relied heavily on manual processes.
  • With iPaaS, the team was able to connect their entire tech stack.
  • The key to their success was aligning their teams and taking a phased approach.

Digital transformation takes more than adding a few best-of-breed applications to your tech stack. It involves modernizing all facets of your business, from people to processes.

This can be complicated, especially if your organization relies heavily on manual processes. On top of that, 70% of digital transformation initiatives fail to meet their objectives–often due to overly ambitious approaches. To achieve successful digital transformation, you need to build a strong foundation by integrating your tech stack.

That’s exactly what the CDC Foundation, an independent nonprofit created by Congress to support the philanthropic efforts of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), did to modernize their organization. The organization transitioned their operations from traditional methods like spreadsheets, colored folders, and manual tasks to a fully integrated tech stack that enables process automation.

Learn how they were able to achieve success just in time to help support vital campaigns during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Hear from CDC Foundation Director of Information Technology Malcom James on the impact of Celigo.

Taking the first step

Throughout their two decades as an organization, the CDC Foundation launched 1,200 health protection programs and raised over $1.25 billion. However, the technology side of the nonprofit lagged behind. The organization used local on-prem systems and had staff dedicated to doing manual uploads and reconciliation from system to system.

In 2017, the team decided it was time to adopt best-of-breed SaaS solutions to help them automate their manual processes. They quickly realized they would need to do more than migrate to new applications. To truly modernize their organization, they needed to fully integrate their tech stack. This proved challenging due to the highly-customized nature of their processes and operations.


“Our business is very complex, and so it’s very rare that we can work with a partner that truly understands what we’re trying to accomplish and gives us an effective solution. We always think it’s impossible for someone to understand and really give us what we want, but Celigo has definitely shown us otherwise.”

– Malcolm James, director of information technology at the CDC Foundation

The CDC Foundation meets iPaaS

As the team searched for solutions, they discovered Celigo’s iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service). Using a mix of prebuilt and custom integrations, the organization was able to connect their entire tech stack from their ERP to their HR management software.

The team was able to automate their processes just in time for their transaction volume to increase fivefold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This allowed them to raise more than $50 million to support critical response activities without worrying if their operations could keep up.

Director of information technology at the CDC Foundation, Malcolm James, said using Celigo made all the difference, “It would be near impossible to manage that kind of volume before Celigo.”

3 tips for successful digital transformation

With integration, the CDC Foundation was able to successfully drive digital transformation and quickly adapt to changes in the market. James said the CDC Foundation has now successfully shifted to an automation-first company.

To get your business prepared to drive growth and agility, here’s a few key insights the CDC foundation learned along the way:

  1. Align your teams: Moving their operations from manual to best-of-breed SaaS solutions took more than a shift in technology. The team had to change their mindset and get alignment across the entire organization. Celigo’s intuitive platform helped empower everyone on the team to create and manage integrations.
  2. Identify your data hubs: It’s important to determine where you house your data, so you can identify the integrations with the highest priority. For the CDC Foundation, they needed to tackle their ERP and CRM integrations first, since they were critical to their operations.
  3. Start with incremental changes: The CDC Foundation took a phased approach to implementing their changes, which allowed them to effectively automate their processes end-to-end without going too big, too fast.

Want to learn more about how the CDC Foundation tackled their digital transformation efforts? Check out our case study to learn about the challenge they faced and how they solved it with iPaaS. To learn how an iPaaS can help you effectively modernize your organization, contact us today.