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A Case Study


SOCIY is a website platform built specifically for YMCA associations, who share a common mission. Many of their obstacles and online issues are the same, and it is their goal to work together to ensure their communities have the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive. It is SOCIY’s mission to provide a solution that allows them to more easily achieve this goal.


YMCA associations are on their own when it comes to creating an online experience for their users, both members and non-members. The vast majority of these YMCA’s do not have the staff capacity to build their websites in-house, leaving them to find their own website developer who may or may not have experience working with YMCA’s.

The Challenges

Your website is out there. It looks great (..maybe not), it functions perfectly (..maybe not), and it’s the best version of itself. That is all “fine and dandy”, but what happens when you have a rush of users during a busy season? Can your servers handle the traffic? What happens when your user base grows? Does your security keep up? Does your team spend entirely too much time worrying about these things? How quickly can you address these changing environments?

I’m giving myself a minor stress attack just typing these questions, and that is why we use Amazon Web Services (AWS) for our SOCIY platform.

“Using AWS allows us to grow and meet customer needs as fast as we need to. We never have to wait for a server or a network connection to arrive in the UPS truck.” - Kerry Knopp, DevOps Engineer at SOCIY

“If you challenge conventional wisdom, you will find ways to do things much better than they are currently done."
― Michael Lewis, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

Being a data nerd, I definitely do not side on being cautious when it comes to analysis. My belief is, "If it's there, let's use it to help inform our decisions". In the wonderful world of SOCIY, these decisions impact us and our YMCA Partners equally. This impact only becomes greater as the platform and our Partners grow. Therefore, we NEED to continue making sound data-driven decisions, even if it challenges conventional wisdom. Data helps us spot inefficiencies, make decisions, and with our YMCA Partners, it helps drive our platform Forward Together.

Here are a few areas of focus that we have been able to improve by good data analysis:

User Behavior / Site Structure

If you are like many people out there wanting to get healthy and in shape after the holiday season, make sure not to forget about your local YMCA. YMCA’s have made great strides in past years updating technology, equipment and making it possible for each member to create their own perfect workout.

YMCA’s offer assistance when getting started or restarted, your workout plan is not something you have to figure out on your own. A YMCA personal trainer is there to help set and meet goals to live a healthier lifestyle. This coaching helps in maintaining the program and sticking with it. YMCA’s offer a sense of belonging and community, where everyone is working toward a common purpose.

Are you ready for the Holidays? Yeah, me neither! Am I excited for them? Absolutely! The two can, and normally do coexist with each other in the madness we call the Holidays. It seems every year that passes, the more surprised I find myself come late November. How can the holidays be here already? Weren’t we just basking in 80-degree heat, like…yesterday? Also, I know I am not the only one that feels as if there are roughly four whole business days the entire year. For those of you that find yourself feeling something similar, it's okay! We are all here with you. Forward Together, right? Here is how I attempt to manage the madness at work and home, using what I call my four pillars.

Make time for YOU

We have big plans on how to make SOCIY more efficient in the New Year! While creating Sociy, a platform tailored specifically for YMCA’s, we learned two things: what they need and the services they provide. We are excited to share our plans: everything from new associates, to features, and even how-to documents! We took this past year’s experiences with our partners and thought hard about what improvements to make to the platform.

Creating a new position always has its challenges, but for SOCIY, adding Jaron Ludwig has been remarkable. Jaron is SOCIY’s new Project Manager and will be assisting in making the transition from project breakdown to launch easier for our partners. You can expect an effortless launch, little to no hiccups, and a thorough intro to our retainer team!

To help a community, it takes people. People who are caring, compassionate and have the commitment to help those less fortunate. The YMCA of Monroe County is doing just this through the National Y’s campaign “For A Better US”. As part of the national campaign, which is the cornerstone of their charitable mission, YMCA locations have been asked to share the stories of their members and staff.

Through the SOCIY website platform, the YMCA of Monroe County has been able to feature different members and staff sharing their Y story. The YMCA of Monroe County has found the ease of use with the SOCIY platform has made it effortless to change and update content and “For A Better US” testimonials.

It can be difficult for cancer patients to return to what has become a “new” normal after treatment. Finding a non-medical environment to further one’s healing and get back on the road to wellness isn’t always easy. The nationally-recognized LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program provides a 12-week health and wellness program at no cost to participants. This program creates a supportive, caring circle of hope that helps physical and emotional recovery for adult cancer survivors. The YMCA of the North Shore is currently offering this program at 5 of its locations and continues to expand with the incredible generosity of donors, community partners, volunteers and staff.

Sociy created a contest for YMCA’s during the 2016 General Assembly to find the most deserving recipient for a free website. Out of the numerous entries, the Randolph YMCA location was selected. Working with a limited budget, the Randolph YMCA lacked an online presence and ability to reach their full potential.

Through utilizing the power of Drupal, an open source content management system, the SOCIY product was able to give the Randolph YMCA the ability to change and update their content with ease.

A month after the upgrade Kaitlyn Lamia, The Randolph YMCA Marketing & Community Program Coordinator, only had great things to say. “The website is SO AMAZING! It is so simple to update and change things and we are getting such a positive response from employees and members, we are so happy. Thank you!” said Lamia.

Rewind to ten years ago. I got my first cell phone because I was moving across state lines and thought, "Well, I guess I should get a cell phone to stay in touch my family." It was a "Chocolate" phone from Verizon - and man I thought I was cool ... the keypad slid out the bottom, for heaven's sake. I paid $275 and thought I had gotten a steal. One year later, watching a football game on TV, I saw a commercial from a major pizza chain that said, "Buy 2 Large pizzas, get a free Chocolate LG phone!" Ouch.