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JDRF advances Type 1 Diabetes Research and Advocacy Throughout the Pandemic

The Type 1 Diabetes nonprofit JDRF quickly transitioned to an online-first model through a fast-paced digital transition. Focused on advancing research to find a cure and supporting its community, JDRF leveraged Microsoft tools. Microsoft 365 and Teams now enable staff to work more efficiently and collaboratively than before, and Microsoft Azure keeps the nonprofit’s data and assets secure. Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations has streamlined financial processes, freeing up time for employees to advance JDRF’s mission.

The ease of use, advanced capabilities, comprehensive integration, and security of Microsoft solutions, all in a cost-effective package, enabled us to successfully make the business case for, and then implement, JDRF’s digital transformation.

Sri Mishra: Chief Data and Technology Officer


JDRF is the largest type 1 diabetes (T1D) support organization in the world. With 70 U.S. chapters that staff 400+ employees, JDRF raises funds for critical research and technology to fight T1D. Their mission is simple: find a cure. To complete their mission, JDRF staff, a network of researchers, medical experts, vendors, and volunteers for advocacy, research, and improving the lives of people living with T1D and their families. 

Traditionally, more than 400 staff worked in 70 U.S. chapters primarily worked in brick-and-mortar offices, with headquarters in New York. Their work of supporting a community of more than 20 million people who are living with T1D could not stop at the outset of the pandemic when the nonprofit closed offices to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. In fact, they took on the additional challenge of helping people living with T1D how to navigate these new circumstances, from educating people on their increased risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes to how to manage their diabetes while hospitalized. 

JDRF had to quickly become an online entity to continue its life-saving work. By implementing Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, SharePoint, Teams, Azure Active Directory, and Microsoft Defender for Office 365, JDRF was able to keep their information secure, stakeholders connected, and operations streamlined. 

“We have a significant amount of work to do with less staff and financial resources than the private sector. Almost all funding is devoted to furthering research, advocacy, and goes directly to our mission,” says Sri Mishra, chief data and technology officer at JDRF. “It is imperative to have efficient, cost-effective solutions to enable us to focus on, and save funds for, our mission as well as secure any important confidential data about our supporters.” 

Supporting fundraising during the pandemic and beyond

JDRF is one of the world’s leading T1D organizations, and it funds research across the globe. To date, JDRF has funded more than $2 billion in research that has advanced our understanding of and tools to fight T1D. In 2020—during an acutely challenging time for nonprofits—JDRF raised nearly $400 million through supporter advocacy and research leadership.

The impressive number is evidence of the nonprofit’s dedicated and tireless staff and supporters. These team members were more easily able to reach out to donors and connect with community fundraising efforts because of JDRF’s digital transformation. Teams and SharePoint in particular helped them overcome the barriers of being unable to meet in person. With these easy-to-use, intuitive platforms, building, and cementing relationships became significantly easier. 

Using Teams also saves a significant amount of time for JDRF. On average, JDRF’s fundraising staff is reducing their travel time by close to 75 percent, as they organize and promote fundraising events remotely. Over the last 12 months, JDRF has saved hundreds of these travel hours, allowing staff to focus more on deepening relationships with donors, establishing new partnerships, and finding other efficiencies that direct the maximum funds to its mission.

Collaborating and communicating to better treat and diagnose diabetes

Before implementing Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams, JDRF communicated through emails and physical meetings. Without a central way to communicate, meetings sometimes led to even more meetings, and it could take more than a week to make important decisions. Drawn-out processes delayed the execution of mission-centric plans. Additionally, stakeholders missed opportunities to attend JDRF meetings, which meant that the nonprofit missed out on their insights and ideas. 

JDRF needed one secure, organization-wide collaboration tool that all staff, external parties, vendors, and volunteers could access. They wanted a solution with robust capabilities including video calls and conferencing, Voice over IP (VoIP), chat, and secure document storage. 

JDRF found this solution in Teams. The nonprofit had moved their entire organization to Teams before COVID-19, making their transition to a remote work model fast and seamless. Now JDRF uses Teams meetings to get the right people in the “room,” despite physical distance. With partners and advisors based around the world, they use Teams to chat, collaborate, share documents, and host virtual calls with scientific communities and affiliates who are working on JDRF-funded research and clinical trials. 

“With Teams, we resolve issues much faster,” says Mishra. “It has helped up boost efficiency at JDRF by 90 percent.”

Teams is now JDRF’s primary collaboration platform. For example, the pandemic forced JDRF to cancel an in-person workshop to find new ways to track the progression of diabetic retinopathy, which improves doctors’ ability to diagnose diabetes earlier and treat it smarter. The work is critical to advancing JDRF’s mission, so they had to find another way to bring the experts together. The solution: The nonprofit created a small working group that meet regularly via Teams. The pivot means that members work together on a more ongoing basis—and perhaps uncover even more possibilities to identify and treat T1D.

Streamlining financial processes

Without a cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tool, JDRF used to manually process stacks of paper invoices. This time-intensive process hindered report management. For example, invoice processing took anywhere from four days to three weeks. Since implementing Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, JDRF has cut processing time nearly in half. 

Today, Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations manages all the revenue and financials for JDRF. Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations streamlines revenue and gives the organization real-time numbers for budgeted costs versus actual costs. The efficiencies shave off 10 hours of manual work processing transactions from fundraising events—time staff can invest in developing donor relationships or planning the next mission-fueling event. Additionally, the JDRF finance team decreased the time it takes for month-end reconciliation by 25 percent.

Safeguarding a half-century’s worth of assets

JDRF has existed for more than 50 years, resulting in a treasure trove of data. The nonprofit implemented Microsoft Defender for Office 365, among other security safeguards, to protect supporter data, personally identifiable information, and financial details. This environment strengthened JDRF’s security by providing advanced email security capabilities including encryption, monitoring, and comprehensive threat protection. 

This level of security is even more important as JDRF staff continue to work remotely. During the pandemic, most organizations saw a rise in attempted security intrusions, largely due to the remote work model. JDRF uses Microsoft Defender for Office 365 and Azure Active Directory to verify staff identity before they enter the network and offer remediation recommendations. Since implementing Microsoft Defender for Office 365, JDRF has not had a single cyber breach. 

Continual improvements and platform updates help JDRF stay ahead of bad actors. For example, it recently rolled out Microsoft Defender for Endpoint to further strengthen its security in the office, remote workplaces, and the field.

Hiring the best and the brightest

Microsoft solutions have provided capabilities that allow JDRF to hire staff across the country, even in a remote work environment. Being able to find and hire remote workers saves office space, reduces the need to travel for in-person meetings, and lifts reliance on hard copy documents. 

JDRF uses modern, web-based talent acquisition products that integrate with Microsoft platforms, enabling them to interview potential candidates “in person” and streamline the hiring process. Using Microsoft Exchange and Teams to schedule and conduct interviews, JDRF saves significant time and hassle. This process used to take several weeks to complete, from start to finish. Now, JDRF can hire qualified candidates in a matter of days. 

Hiring the right staff—regardless of their location—is just one way in which JDRF is laying the foundation for long-term success.

With leading-edge digital tools and services, JDRF staff have more time, funding, and other resources to dedicate to what really matters: funding research, increasing access to therapies, and providing support—all in the pursuit of ending T1D.

Mishra explains, “The ease of use, advanced capabilities, comprehensive integration, and security of Microsoft solutions, all in a cost-effective package, enabled us to successfully make the business case for, and then implement, JDRF’s digital transformation.”

With Teams, we resolve issues much faster. It has helped up boost efficiency at JDRF by 90 percent.

Sri Mishra: Chief Data and Technology Officer


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