INSART Helps Salsa Labs

to Build Fundraising and Marketing Platform for Nonprofits to Boost Strategic Partnerships


Salsa Labs is a technology company that provides powerful fundraising, advocacy and marketing software to nonprofit organizations helping them Engage and Change the World.

  • The company fuels more than 3,000 non-profit organizations and 10,000 nonprofit professionals to deliver on their mission;
  • Salsa Labs has offices in Pittsburgh, PA, Bethesda, MD, Rochester, NY and Austin, TX;
  • Salsa team size: 80 experts in non-profit and software engineering;
  • Recently Salsa was acquired by Accel-KKR, a technology-focused investment and private equity firm with $4.3 billion in capital commitments to support Salsa’s further growth and ability to serve its non-profit clients even better;
  • Salsa acquired Givezooks and merged with DonorPro companies;
  • Salsa’s leading supporter engagement suite combines marketing automation, email marketing, online fundraising, and online advocacy, with an award-winning nonprofit CRM for powerful donor and constituent relationship management;
  • Current team at INSART: Java, frontend, QA, DB engineers in Kyiv and Kharkiv, Ukraine.
  • Partnership period since: March 2014.

Alex Sukhenko

Alex Sukhenko, Chief Technology Officer at Salsa Labs, USA

“INSART is a software provider whose excellent performance should make them an ideal partner for any project that falls within their range of technologies. INSART’s software engineers are first-rate professionals who take great professional pride in what they do.”


The client needed help with re-architecting and reengineering an existing fundraising and online marketing platform to make it scalable, boost performance, and expand functionality by adding business processes. The project required new functionality development, constant improvements and integration of software tools from acquired companies, which included:

  • Software development of SaaS platform together with the Salsa in-house core software development team;
  • Fundraising features and payment processing enhancements;
  • Creating an offshore full-stack software development team as an extension to Salsa in-house team to support the growing software development scope of work.

Software Development of Fundraising SaaS Platform

Challenge description: Salsa Labs needed to enhance its abilities to better serve its clients by modernizing its application architecture. Salsa Labs decided on a  service-oriented approach to improve reliability, scalability and improve the pace of new enhancements for our customers.

Solution approach and process: INSART project team has been handling a variety of tasks associated with the bulk of the system’s functionality.

  • INSART’s experts have helped the client better redefine and optimize their business processes, and, in particular, initiated the introduction of automated QA and testing;
  • Salsa team introduced the microservices architecture that allowed to scale the performance of the system and joint Salsa and INSART team was able to better parallelize development progress;
  • INSART team developed both backend and frontend parts of the system;
  • the data warehouse was built with customized ETL process;
  • code refactoring, fixing bugs, optimization, and upgrading UI was also done;
  • software functionality was expanded, including all steps from the idea, creating requirements and mockup design to releasing the application with new functionality.

Agile methodology was adopted for our needs. The iterative approach was taken, which included daily meetings and two types of release:

  • Regular release when scheduled updates are deployed;
  • On-demand release to fix critical bugs.

Business value delivered: INSART helped Salsa Labs to develop a SaaS-based platform for nonprofit organizations with the following components:

  • Fundraising Software;
  • Nonprofit CRM;
  • Donor Management;
  • Digital Marketing;
  • Online Fundraising;
  • Online Advocacy;
  • Peer to Peer Fundraising.

As result, during the time of cooperation Salsa Labs was able to provide additional engagement capability to its clients, including various fundraising features.

Fundraising Features and Payment Processing Enhancements

Challenge description: Salsa Labs constantly upgrades its fundraising software, which includes secure and reliable payment processing. INSART had to enhance payment processing integrations and add additional capabilities to fundraising features.

Solution approach and process: Salsa Labs major features for nonprofit fundraising software includes online donation forms, automated gift acknowledgments, online event registration, secure payment processing, fundraising dashboard analytics. Peer to peer fundraising capabilities also included the development of the following features: custom event pages, personal/team fundraising pages, built-in fundraiser coaching, free P2P mobile fundraiser app, P2P dashboard analytics.

INSART team members developed the following enhancements related to payment processing and fundraising features of Salsa platform:

  • for Wepay integration the support for Echeck processing within our payment processing server was added;
  • implemented Embeddable Payment Widget backed by our payments processing server. Hosted in an Iframe. Allows Credit cards and Echeck processing.
  • proof-of-concept of custom-built light-weight fraud-detection solution based on historical data, sliding windows, and defined rulesets. Highly-configurable with pluggable detectors, black-and-white listing. Currently, in addition to that, more sophisticated solution based on machine learning from Sift Science is used.
  • reporting and insights: built a set of data warehouse backed reports, diagrams, and insights related to fundraising and payments.

Business value delivered: INSART was able to successfully deliver additional capabilities of payment processing and fundraising components that made the system more secure and enhanced analytics features.

Creating an Offshore Full-stack Software Development Team

Challenge description: Salsa Labs was in search for reliable offshore software development partner with deep expertise in Java technological stack, as well as with established streamlined development processes. Ability to understand the business domain was also a requirement.

Solution approach and process: at the start of cooperation, the following major requirement for candidates were identified:

  • have considerable Java backend, frontend, QA and database development expertise;
  • be able to understand and process the existing code, as well as provide further development;
  • have a high level of English knowledge to be able to communicate with experts on the client’s side.

Following INSART Talents Pipeline approach, we were able to recruit and assemble the following dedicated team in a short period of time:

  • Java Team Lead;
  • Several Full-stack Java Developers;
  • Few Angular Frontend Developers;
  • A team of QA Lead and QA Engineers;
  • Database developer and administrator.

To ensure the efficiency of software delivery, the following processes were established and actions performed:

  • ongoing synchronization of all the team members on evolving business goals;
  • clear prioritization of a product backlog;
  • efficient communication across various time zones established;
  • a culture of personal responsibility acceptance;
  • respect for people from different cultures and backgrounds;
  • supportive leadership;
  • periodic visit of team members to the client on site for faster and more seamless engagement.

Business value delivered: our client was able to strengthen an in-house software team with INSART dedicated team of experts to support the delivery of a constantly growing scope of work. Significant cost optimization for software development due to cost-effective offshore setup was also one of the selling points for several additional rounds of venture investment into Salsa Labs and further strategic acquisition of the company by Accel-KKR, a leading technology-focused private equity firm.

Technologies and Architecture Overview

The following technologies were used:

  • Programming language: Java 8
  • Frameworks: Spring, Hibernate
  • Frontend layer: Angular
  • Communication between components: REST API, JSON
  • Database: MySQL, PostgreSQL
  • Cloud services: Amazon Web Services (AWS) IaaS/PaaS
  • Automation server: Jenkins
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