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Enhanced Higher Education Operations Lead to More Effective Fundraising

By October 6, 2019

Higher education students

By: Sharanya Venkatesh, Digital Marketing Manager, Wealthengine

In our previous blogs, we addressed the operations challenges faced by higher education institutions and provided best practice tips to address these challenges. In our final chapter of the series, we will examine the connection between efficient operations and enhanced fundraising.

Graphic showing the connection between strong constituent management and enhanced fundraising

With improved constituent management comes increased constituent engagement. Higher engagement leads to better prospects for nurturing or cultivation. A more targeted prospect list further results in enhanced fundraising conversion at lower costs.

Your CRM & Higher Education Fundraising

When constituent management is conducted on a cohesive platform, you can achieve greater engagement among students, faculty, administrators, and alumni. And engaged constituents make great prospects for fundraising. So, how can you best maximize your fundraising efforts in these settings?

Take the Education Cloud, for instance. You can leverage its features to ensure that they support your advancement team by reducing the amount of time staff must spend on administrative tasks and increasing precision in donor targeting.

Your CRM can Provide a Single View of all Your Data

This means you can pull data from any department in a format that suits your purpose. For instance, if you are planning a Giving Day event for your university, follow these steps:

  1. Target all past giving day donors, whether they are students, faculty, board members, or alumni.
  2. Segment donors by the value of their gift, frequency of giving, engagement score, and capacity.
  3. Find your top donors. You can focus your giving day promotion on these donors. This way your marketing dollars are more targeted and will generate a greater number of conversions.

Your CRM can Integrate Data from Different Sources

This means you can create custom donor segments. Wealth Screening appends actionable information on your constituents. For example, WealthEngine’s WE Screen appends data on constituent demographics, lifestyle, interests, and affinities into your CRM. With API integration, you can append screening data to your Education Cloud at the click of a button. API integration increases efficiency as advancement professionals no longer have to switch back and forth between multiple platforms.

Use these tips to create actionable segments:

  1. Segment based on demographics such as age, geographic location, income level, etc.
  2. Segment based on the type of giving such as major gifts, planned giving, recurring donors, etc.
  3. Segment based on giving history such as gift bracket, frequency, and gift purpose. You can find patterns of gifts donated towards the arts, sports, school facilities, campaigns, etc.

Your CRM can Help you Personalize Your Communications

This means you can speak to your constituents in their own language. Personalization can enhance fundraising effectiveness. In fact, Philanthropy News Journal reports that there could be as much as a 60% uptick in giving when donors are strategically solicited, and when donors know where their dollars are going.

Follow these tips to leverage personalization in your fundraising efforts:

  1. Personalize both the medium and the message. You have to understand the prospect’s communication preferences. Some donors prefer a personal touch and are open to an in-person meeting. Others may prefer direct mail or even a text message. When using media like direct mail ensure that you address your prospect by their preferred name. Further, ensure that your content is relevant to them.
  2. Personalize your ask. Wealth scores such as Propensity to Give (P2G) give you an indication of a donor’s capacity and interest. Leverage this data to zero-in on the right ask for each constituent.
  3. Personalize your campaigns. P2G and Wealth Modeling help you predict giving. Leverage predictive data to build your audience for each campaign. For example, when you find donors who donate frequently, add them to your recurring donor campaign.
  4. Personalize the solicitation. Over 80% of donors have said that they need to see the real outcomes of their gifts. When you decide on the right ask amount, make sure you ask for gifts that resonate with your donors. For example, all alumni who were part of theater clubs can be part of a fundraising campaign for rebuilding your auditorium.

Your CRM can Generate Custom Analytics Reports

This means you can pull reports to suit your purpose. By pulling data across various departments and adding data from external sources, you can build in-depth analytical reports. These reports help you gain insights on your constituent universe. Further, they also help you evaluate the effectiveness of your fundraising campaigns.

Use these tips to build insightful reports:

  1. Leverage big data to identify macro-patterns in your data. For example, as a west coast university, you may find that there is a significant concentration of alumni in New York. This means that running more events in the New York area could elevate your fundraising. WE Insights is a free service that provides WealthEngine clients such actionable insights.
  2. The results of all fundraising efforts should be measurable and should give a clear sense of ROI. Store campaign spends data in your CRM. You can then compare lead generation and conversion data against expenditure to deduce your ROI.

For more tips and resources on higher education fundraising, see what offers in Advancement. When you download this guide, you’ll better understand how to use the Salesforce platform and broader ecosystem to accelerate your efforts in a variety of areas, such as alumni engagement, fundraising, data and operations strategy, and more.


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About the Author


Sharanya Venkatesh is Content/Digital Marketing Manager at WealthEngine. She creates thought leadership content and reports on industry trends and best practices for higher education and other industries. Prior to WealthEngine, Sharanya was an MBA candidate at the University of Oxford. Her career before Oxford involved working in marketing communications across various lifestyle-related industries in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. You can read her other articles on WealthEngine’s blog.