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Portland Museum of Art

Portland Museum of Art Selects Altru to Enhance Customer Service, Streamline Processes, and Work Smarter

The Portland Museum of Art is the largest and oldest art museum in Maine. The Museum serves as a vital cultural resource for all who visit. The Museum has a collection of more than 17,000 objects, housed in three historic and remarkable buildings, and showcases three centuries of art and architecture. The changing exhibitions and permanent collection offer a diverse selection of fine and decorative arts.


For the Portland Museum of Art, a large disconnect existed between information on development constituents such as donors, partners, members, fundraisers, and those individuals that visited the museum. There was no easy way, beyond visitors walking up to the admissions desk, for development staff to reach out and to keep track of visitors to see if they would like to become members or attend a program at the Museum; there was no way to know if members visited the Museum, how often, or if they attended an event. To increase the success of its development office and increase membership, the Museum established a number of goals. One of the main goals was to integrate its front house data (the data gathered from or on visitors to the museum) with its back house data (development data). The idea was that by knowing who visited the museum and why, the whole Museum could better serve its existing constituents and donors, and better recruit new members.

Achieving this goal, however, presented some challenges. The Museum’s development office was using one system for donor and member data and another system for ticketing and attendance tracking. Curatorial, Education, and Marketing departments also had their own lists and procedures for tracking constituents. Because the systems did not talk to each other it was difficult to obtain the data needed to bridge the gap between members and visitors.

Additionally, the Portland Museum of Art lacked a central database; departments across the organization maintained their own databases. Information was passed along from one department to the next, creating an increasing likelihood that data would not get updated or would be entered incorrectly in one or more systems. The Museum also realized that it wanted to track more than just giving history; staff wanted to know how they interacted with constituents and how constituents interacted with the Museum. The Museum staff wanted to be able to show members the benefits they experienced, but they couldn’t do that without knowing how many times a member visited or attended an event, for example.


The Portland Museum of Art selected Altru from Blackbaud to bring a full 360 degree view of constituents, provide a standardized, central database across the organization, and ultimately, increase customer service in the hopes of increasing membership and donations.

The price point of Altru was also very appealing for the Museum. “We get Altru for the same price that we could get a ticketing system, but we get so much more functionality. Basically, we can get one system that works across the organization for the same price that we would get one software application for one function,” said deputy director of finance and operations Elena Murdock. “Plus, we don’t have to try to integrate our systems. Altru comes already connecting our various departmental data.”


Altru has helped the organization reduce the duplication of work, specifically data entry that was previously required with multiple databases. Data will be cleaner, more up-to-date and more useable. It also gives staff more time to focus on more strategic tasks than entering address updates.

“One of the greatest values offered by Altru is the potential to provide good customer service. We are able to gain a much better picture of how our constituents interact with the museum and then we are able to better serve their interests and capitalize on that to raise more money,” mentioned Will Cary, director of membership for the Museum. “Being able to see the general visitorship, how they interact, and how we can use that in the development office is one of the biggest benefits for me. Altru is a great merging of front-house data and back-house data.”

For Elizabeth Jones, director of visitor experience, the ability to track how visitors move through the building, doing it in one system, and getting the information live is an opportunity they just couldn’t pass up. “For an organization of our size, Altru presents so much opportunity. With one system we can really figure out the prospect and begin to cultivate and develop our visitorship, better gather constituent information, label their engagement, and capitalize on this information.” Jones added that with one system, there is little room for error. Data is entered and stored by the same standards and can be pulled into one report that has the most accurate and complete data. This is simply not possible with multiple databases.

Another benefit of Altru that Jones enjoys is that it is a live system. She is able to monitor things as they happen throughout the day. She doesn’t have to wait for data syncs overnight, the data is cleaner, and she can fix things or address issues as they happen. And because Altru is web-based, she can do it on the road or working from home.

The Portland Museum of Art looks forward to using Altru for all its capabilities. Eventually, the museum will have a master calendar that can be used across departments to better utilize events, exhibitions, and fundraisers. Instead of these departments working in silos and communicating with constituents independently, the Museum will be able to schedule events, exhibitions, and fundraisers more strategically and deliver more streamlined communications to its constituents regarding these opportunities. For Cary, it is just another way to enhance the customer experience and develop a deeper relationship with constituents based on knowing who they are and what interests them. The Museum will also use Altru to manage its store, facility use, and special events.


Blackbaud (NASDAQ: BLKB) is the world’s leading cloud software company powering social good. Serving the entire social good community—nonprofits, foundations, corporations, education institutions, healthcare institutions and individual change agents—Blackbaud connects and empowers organizations to increase their impact through software, services, expertise, and data intelligence. The Blackbaud portfolio is tailored to the unique needs of vertical markets, with solutions for fundraising and CRM, marketing, advocacy, peer-to-peer fundraising, corporate social responsibility, school management, ticketing, grantmaking, financial management, payment processing, and analytics. Serving the industry for more than three decades, Blackbaud is headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina and has operations in the United States, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit

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