Technology Tools for Climbers and Outdoor Stewards

OMBU’s mission was to digitize the record keeping, website, and development processes of a 125-year-old organization, empowering Mazamas with simpler, more transparent and effective tools to run its operations.

  • Technology Planning
  • User Experience Design
  • Visual Design
  • Python
  • Salesforce
  • Heroku Connect
  • Stripe
  • AWS

Founded in 1894 on the summit of Mt. Hood, Mazamas is a nonprofit mountaineering education organization located in Portland, Oregon. Mazamas offers over 700 hikes and 350 climbs each year. A variety of classes and activities are offered for every skill and fitness level, and are open to both members and nonmembers.

Mosaic historical Mazamas photos

Before engaging OMBU, Mazamas was largely a pen-and-paper organization, with volunteers managing hundreds of activities and classes, attendance, first aid certifications, climbing achievements and donations, with few shared collaborative tools or databases.

Mazamas relies on volunteer members to run much of its operations. A new member hub empowers them to schedule and participate in activities, and manage many member processes online. The screens, features and flows of the hub are all tailored to the member's role in the organization.

mazamas.orgScreenshot of Basic Climbing Education Program webpage

Before the website, Mazama members would register for climbs and other activities by mailing paper application cards with checks. Climb leaders would review the applications, choose a team, and cash the checks of accepted members. The new portal made this process online and realtime. Leaders organizing climbs have access to the training and activity history of applicants, to help them make better decisions about the right team for a climb. Payments are live, through Stripe, and only when a member is accepted into an activity, and refunds due to cancellation are automated.

As community members complete training and activities, they earn badges to help them showcase to other Mazama members their skills, interests, experience, and achievements in community-fostering and team-building.

The member hub is backed by a Salesforce nonprofit database. Data between the member hub and Salesforce are synced in realtime through Heroku Connect. Mazamas management staff can use Salesforce tools to quickly prepare up-to-date, detailed, and granular analytics and financial reports for data-driven decision-making.

  • Activity calendar

    All Mazamas activities are posted in a rich calendar, where members can find activities best suited to their interests and skills. The calendar filters include date, location, skill badges and more.

    For each activity, the calendar shows availability and wait list information. Climb and hike leaders can use the calendar to propose activities, with a workflow that forwards them to the appropriate members for review and approval.

  • Activity lifecycle

    The member hub supports the full lifecycle of a climbing or hiking activity. This cycle begins when a leader proposes a new activity and continues through participant registration, participant review, acceptance and payments, team planning communications and post-activity reporting.

  • Member badges

    As members complete classes, trainings and activities, they earn skill badges that qualify them to participate in more activities. Leaders can post activities that require specific skill badges, such as Advanced Rock Climbing, in order to ensure team safety. Staff can ensure climb leaders are consistently trained using badges that expire, such as Mountaineering First Aid, a certification that must be renewed regularly.

  • A website activity history list for a fictional Mazama member who hikes, climbs, camps, and volunteers in the community.

    Member activity history

    The member hub empowers climb and hike leaders with insight into the activity history and skills of prospective participants, helping ensure safe and successful outings.

  • Salesforce synchronization

    The member hub uses Heroku Connect to maintain live two-way synchronization with Salesforce. As members sign up for classes, complete activities, earn badges, etc, Salesforce stays up to date, enabling staff to run management reports any time using the latest operations data. Staff can also update content through Salesforce with the assurance that the member hub will instantly reflect the change.

  • Online payments

    The member hub integrates natively with Stripe to process activity participation payments, memberships and donations. Participants no longer have to mail checks to apply to a climb! The hub is aware of the organization's refund rules, so when a member cancels their participation in an activity, the hub issues the correct refund, reducing staff time spent processing refunds.

  • A migration which processes data in 4 steps — validation, sanitization, normalization, reporting — and outputs to Salesforce.

    Structured migration

    During this project, OMBU migrated decades worth of disparate organizational data, funneling it into a well structured Salesforce database that enables quick data-driven decision-making. The data migration process was carefully scripted to be repeatable and auditable, and included:

    • Validation: isolation of incorrect data for manual review
    • Sanitization: scripted data harmonization and corrections using predefined overrides
    • Normalization: data transformation and consolidation into target data types
    • Reporting: process report for auditing