Oklahoma State University Calls EverTrue a “Game Changer” for Prospect Development

Who

Oklahoma State University (OSU) is a large public research university in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The OSU Foundation manages over 400,000 records in their database, Raiser’s Edge.

Challenge

With a goal of leveraging data to support university fundraising, the OSU prospect research team is responsible for completing both proactive and reactive research on OSU alumni and friends. Due to the large size of OSU’s database, however, it could be difficult to sift through and identify the best prospects to refer to gift officers.

In addition, OSU knew that thousands of prospects were interacting with the university on social media—but they had no easy way to capture that data and use it in their research. This limited the team’s ability to provide frontline fundraisers with fresh information about prospects’ interests and affinities.

Why EverTrue

EverTrue caught the team’s attention right away; they loved the efficiency it would add to tasks like identifying prospects and creating research profiles. In addition, OSU saw no other product on the market that could take data from sources they were already using—including Facebook, LinkedIn, Zillow, and the U.S. Census—and combine it with their own data to help improve their research.

EverTrue now makes it possible for OSU analyze over two million engagements on 50,000 Facebook posts across several institution-run pages. When connected with LinkedIn professional data, giving and capacity data, and more, these insights bring a necessary level of speed and depth to their research.

EverTrue has been a game changer for us. It fills a unique need in terms of harnessing social media data, and it’s the first product we saw that was an effective way to gain insights and take action on that data.

Jacob Astley, Oklahoma State University
Jacob Astley
Associate Director of Prospect Research, Oklahoma State University Foundation

Expediting Prospect Identification

For Associate Director of Prospect Research Jacob Astley, EverTrue is the ideal tool for a major function of his job: proactive research. He uses EverTrue every day to surface prospects who have fallen through the cracks or who may not have shown up in a wealth screening.

“This fiscal year, EverTrue has been the only tool I’ve used to proactively find prospects,” Jacob said. “A lot of the information is right there, so it’s quick and I don’t have to check quite as many sources. Before, I had to piecemeal things together to identify people.”

Using EverTrue’s search filters and Google Maps integration, Jacob is able to customize his queries based on a number of different criteria—from LinkedIn location, to giving pattern, to total Facebook likes. Whenever he identifies a good prospect, he adds the prospect to one of his EverTrue lists. This lets him keep track of potential prospects and referrals in a central spot instead of in spreadsheets.

Jacob Astley, Oklahoma State University

As Jacob works toward his fiscal-year target of 40 prospects identified and 40 referred, EverTrue has put him in an excellent position to meet that goal. Halfway into the year, Jacob has already exceeded his numbers from last year—plus, he’s gotten a great deal of positive feedback from gift officers on his prospect referrals.

I’ve found prospects through EverTrue that I would not have found without it. Since getting EverTrue, I’ve already surpassed the total cumulative referral numbers that I had last year.

Jacob Astley, Oklahoma State University
Jacob Astley
Associate Director of Prospect Research, Oklahoma State University Foundation

Crafting Better Research Profiles

When it comes to reactive research, Jacob believes that EverTrue brings a level of “personal insight” to the prospect profiles he puts together. The Facebook data, in particular, is an important piece of the puzzle because it enables him to include a prospect’s areas of interest when he’s building a profile.

To access the Facebook data while researching a prospect, Jacob pulls up the person’s constituent profile in EverTrue and scrolls down to the “Engagement” section. From there, he gets a summary of recent OSU posts the prospect has engaged with, total Reactions, total comments, and the Engagement Score from OSU’s database.

 Facebook Engagement - EverTrue

A quick survey of the engagement data can reveal patterns in the prospect’s online behavior. For example, a crop of likes on the OSU basketball Facebook page tells Jacob where the prospect’s affinities may lie.

“Interactions on Facebook are a great way to identify specific areas of the university that the prospect may be interested in,” Jacob said. “It can give the gift officer a door-opener with the person.”

Guiding Organizational Strategy Through Analytics

But prospect profiles aren’t the only way OSU has been finding success with EverTrue’s Facebook integration. Senior Prospect Data Analyst Trish McPeek, who builds data visualizations to help staff identify prospects and recognize trends, has been incorporating social data into her work to help guide organizational strategy.

To create the visualizations, Trish exports the data on Facebook comments, likes, and Reactions from EverTrue and then pairs it with demographic and giving information.

According to Trish, the visualizations serve many purposes:

  • The marketing team can see if they're targeting the right audiences with the right content.
  • The leadership team gains a better understanding of OSU's investment in social media.
  • The prospect research team learns which segments of prospects they should focus on.

The visualizations we’ve built with data from EverTrue have been helpful for everybody here, from the college units to the marketing team, and all the way up to the leadership team and board of governors.

Trish McPeek, Oklahoma State University Foundation
Trish McPeek
Senior Prospect Data Analyst, Oklahoma State University Foundation

For instance, one of Trish’s visualizations looks at donors and prospects for the university’s performing arts center. After layering in Facebook data, she has been able to surface trends around who their arts donors are, who could be potential donors, and how they’re engaging with OSU online.

“When you pull the Facebook data, it’s been interesting to comprehend that it’s a younger crowd on Facebook,” she said. “We’re thinking about what we can start doing today to cultivate them. They may not be at the major donor level yet, but building that relationship now could help us in the future.”

From Trish’s work on data analytics to Jacob’s prospect research endeavors, EverTrue puts new data at their fingertips and helps the team funnel insights across the organization to increase fundraising success.

As Jacob said: “We’ve never had access to a tool like EverTrue before.”