Seamlessly Connecting Databases

Ashley Hansen

Frakture Client Case Study with PBS

A few years ago PBS faced the same issue many national federated organizations experience: with hundreds of member stations, how do you work with the diversity of the organization and still have unified data to deliver a seamless and consistent experience to your members?

Faced with a data management challenge, Frakture built a communication network between multiple incompatible databases to help PBS better manage their donor information and deliver a streamlined experience to the most important end user, the members.

“Frakture is a trusted partner for PBS to solve complex data sharing and integration challenges. They help us connect to donor management and data processing systems many of our member stations use today. Our work together has helped to transform the way we approach system financial sustainability through streamlined technology solutions in partnership with our member stations.”

– Chas Offutt, Senior Director | Development Services, Digital | PBS


The Public Broadcasting Service, more commonly known as PBS, provides the majority of programming to its 350+ member stations. PBS now offers a streaming service as a benefit to members of local PBS stations called Passport, which has over 1,500 episodes from popular shows like American Experience, American Masters, Antiques Roadshow, Nature, NOVA, Masterpiece, and Downton Abbey. In the age of Netflix and Hulu, members have come to expect instant streaming service, but PBS was struggling to deliver instant access.

In the age of Netflix and Hulu, members have come to expect instant access to streaming services.

The Challenge

This new streaming service is a benefit of membership; in order for an individual to receive the benefits of the Passport program, they need to be a member of their local station and give at least $60/year or $5/month. Once the donation is made locally, PBS needs to be notified to then pass back the Passport access token. Seems straight forward, but because they were once independent television stations, PBS member stations maintain their own member databases across at least 15 different donor databases, while the streaming service access tokens for Passport are managed by PBS.

PBS did not have the infrastructure to seamlessly share information from multiple station databases to a national database.

How do you manage membership data that’s stored in 15+ databases?

PBS created a Membership Vault (MVAULT) to centralize donor information from their 350+ stations, but more importantly give members access to Passport. The challenge remained, how would they share member information between databases quickly and efficiently?

The Solution

Data Sharing and Integration
Complex Federated Organization Data Integration.

PBS hired Frakture for our data infrastructure expertise. We automated the syncing of donor data from member station databases to MVAULT and back by building custom connections to Raiser’s Edge, TeamApproach, Engaging Networks, Luminate Online, ACD Calls Without Walls, ACD Pledge Cart, GiveGab, as well as a few custom forms.

Currently our system connects 40 stations to the PBS MVAULT, and with multiple inputs from each station, there are more than 100 unique systems connected. For most of the systems, the Frakture sync is real-time, so as soon as someone becomes a member by making a donation, they can have access to the streaming content, fulfilling the need for instant access. So far, we have processed over 400,000 real-time activations for Passport.

With the infrastructure set up for the National Membership Vault to sync with all 350+ member stations, PBS is able to maintain the diversity of the organization and still have unified data. And any future nationwide member initiatives will be seamless across all PBS stations.

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