YMCA of Greater Brandywine

Simple, powerful, and innovative Open Y website that makes members happy

YMCA of Greater Brandywine is an association of eight YMCAs with more than 80,000 members across Chester County. The association offers life-changing programs for children, families, and adults in Chester County, Pennsylvania. YMCA of Greater Brandywine, like any other non-profit, has lofty goals but also has both limited financial and staff resources.

Open Y migration

Five Jars stepped in to act as a digital partner and manage the YMCA’s online presence. We began with the most challenging project - migration to the latest version of the Open Y platform. YMCA of Greater Brandywine had been an early adopter of Open Y, and the original Open Y site was built on a pre-release version using a set of custom features. We had to modernize the ymcagbw.org website in order to use the most advanced features in the Open Y platform. This was critical to allow the Y to be able to apply Drupal Core and security updates and take advantage of the fast-growing Open Y movement. We had three main goals:

  • Make all future Open Y upgrades more affordable and more manageable
  • Minimize the number of customizations and align the website with the Open Y core codebase
  • Improve website security and stability

We kicked-off the project with a comprehensive analysis of the site. Our technical team reviewed content types, media elements, and prioritized a list of components that had to be simplified, optimized, or removed.

Open Y Migration Report

Migration Results

After migrating to the latest version of Open Y, the Y staff and members were able to take advantage of the newest features in Open Y and lowered the expenses of future Open Y upgrades. More importantly, the site response time and site stability were significantly improved.

Lowered expenses for Open Y upgrades from hundreds of hours to tens of hours per upgrade
Improved average response time by 50%
Enabled the newest set of Open Y features and advanced content management experience

ACTIVE Net Integration for schedule

ACTIVE Net is one of the most popular CRM and e-commerce systems that are used to manage the YMCA class schedule. Unfortunately, the original integration between ACTIVE Net and Open Y was not in real-time. In order to better serve members, the YMCA of Greater Brandywine needed improvements in schedule loading times, accuracy, and an improved mobile experience for members.

Open Y Schedules

Adding the Open Y Program Event Framework to the site, pulling data from the latest ACTIVE Net APIs, and making the Open Y site the source of truth for any system consuming schedule information became our primary solution. Additionally, the YMCA of Greater Brandywine and Five Jars set and achieved the following goals:

  • Display changes from the ACTIVE Net CRM system with minimal delay
  • Make the integration with ACTIVE Net stable and simple to track updates
  • Provide an ability to download PDF files containing the weekly schedules
  • Make Group Exercise schedules mobile-friendly


Open Y introduced the new Program Event Framework, a universal architecture for YMCA event management. Five Jars created a new ACTIVE Net integration that meshes seamlessly to allow the instant display of ACTIVE Net updates. The development of this feature improved the Net Promoter Score of the website, the accuracy and accessibility of the schedules, and overall customer satisfaction.

Increased Net Promoter Score
Made Group Exercise Schedules accessible on mobile
Significantly increased the speed and stability of the website and CRM connection

Program Registration Process

The Program Registration process is an essential member service for every YMCA association, and we've decided to take it one step further with key improvements.

Open Y Activity Finder

The primary goal of the project is to enable members to quickly and easily filter activities by age, day of the week, branch, and program type with ease.


The new Program Registration resulted in a dramatic increase in program registrations. It raised awareness of  YMCA activities across their service area, improved knowledge about what is included in YMCA membership, made clear which programs were available for registration online, and which events have additional fees. The new Program Registration process increased the Net Promoter Score, improved the traffic to customer ratio, and increased the number of engagements.

Improved awareness about YMCA offerings
Increased the number of registrations
Increased Net Promoter Score
Made Program Registration process accessible on mobile

Promotional Digital Signage

The next project that we implemented and integrated with ymcagbw.org was an interface to manage the content of digital signage screens displaying marketing content throughout the Y facilities. The subscription and hardware for the previous 3rd party solution were cost-prohibitive, and the licensing was coming up for renewal. We had to create, enable, and configure the Open Y Digital Signage software and features within a limited timeline, all while reducing costs for digital signage software.

YMCA Digital Signage


The Open Y Digital Signage solution is an open-source product used by many associations that integrate Open Y with Google Digital Signage or Screencloud using Chromebits. It supports playlists, screen management, rooms, has its own media library, and makes digital signage management easier. You can learn more about digital signage options for your YMCA or read a case study about the Digital Signage solution itself that has been built and maintained by the Five Jars team.

Ultimately we've created a digital innovation for YMCA of Greater Brandywine that improves the in-branch experience and provides an additional content platform for the marketing team.

Lowered expenses for Digital Signage management software
Launched additional content funnel for the marketing team
Simplified content management system

Schedule Screens

We decided to bring schedules to digital signage so members can easily see what is in progress, or what classes are coming up next. The screens have been deployed in the lobbies of the YMCA and outside program rooms, including Aerobics and Spin rooms. Additionally, classes on the screen can direct members to the correct location and show whether the class is free, paid, or requires a reservation.

Click the link to learn more about the Digital Signage solution that is used by many YMCA associations.

Improved in-branch experience
Increased Net Promoter Score
1st ever YMCA on Open Y with real-time schedules in branch


We've implemented many projects with the YMCA of Greater Brandywine, and it's genuinely a fantastic partnership that makes digital transformation possible for the association and the whole Open Y movement. YMCA of Greater Brandywine became a digital pioneer in the Open Y community, and we're excited to continue to innovate alongside the YMCA of Greater Brandywine, all while taking care of their website with annual support and maintenance.

The YMCA of Greater Brandywine has worked with Five Jars for a long time on our Open Y Drupal Website. Five Jars was able to step in and stabilize our site quickly. They then immediately began implementing improvements that had long sat dormant with our old vendor. The team at Five Jars treats our site with the same care and fervor that we expect from our own employees, and that is a rare find in a vendor. In short, I could not imagine partnering with any other vendor for our development needs.

© Jim Paro, Chief Information Officer, YMCA of Greater Brandywine

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