The Oregon State University Foundation Supercharges Prospect Discovery With EverTrue
The Oregon State University (OSU) Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the mission of Oregon State University, with over $100 million raised per year since 2011. The Foundation manages 400,000 constituent records and uses Ellucian Advance as their database.
Led by Mark Koenig, assistant vice president for advancement services, the OSU Foundation research team wanted to build a stronger donor pipeline in select geographic areas to better support the organization’s fundraising goals. However, Mark knew they couldn’t just rely on legacy tools; they needed a new lens through which to approach these markets. He believed that EverTrue’s prospect research solution—with its advanced search and filtering, social insights, and predictive donor scores—would enable his team to find new donors quickly and effectively.
Only seven months since adopting EverTrue, the OSU Foundation research team has found incredible success with discovering new prospects, crafting portfolios, and providing rich intelligence to development officers.
EverTrue has taken our research and prospect development efforts to the next level. With powerful donor insights at our fingertips, especially social engagement data, we are able to better capitalize on the giving potential of our constituents.
Tracking Donors’ Social Media Engagement
With EverTrue, the OSU Foundation gets real-time insight into which constituents are engaging with OSU on Facebook and what content they’re interacting with—allowing researchers to better assess prospect interests and affinities. The team has connected a total of 50 OSU-affiliated pages to the EverTrue platform, including the general university page, the alumni association page, and various college and athletics pages.
To make the best use of these social insights, Research Analyst Andy Lasselle saves lists and useful constituent segments in EverTrue. That way, he gets instant notifications when his tracked prospects interact with OSU on Facebook or change their job information on LinkedIn. These up-to-the-minute alerts have been invaluable in developing engagement strategies for top prospects and donors.
Andy’s Saved Segments:
- Engaged on Facebook, located in Portland
- Engaged with specific Facebook pages
- Lifetime Giving ≥ $1 million, Engaged on Facebook
Thanks to social insights from EverTrue, the OSU Foundation was able to secure a $17,000 gift to women’s basketball. The donor had never given to the athletics department before, but EverTrue showed that he was highly engaged with OSU athletics content—with nearly 1,500 likes, mostly towards women’s basketball. Andy passed along this insight to the development team, who quickly shifted the dialogue with the donor. This led to one of the largest gifts in OSU women’s basketball history.
The success we had in securing this gift shows the value of tracking social media interactions. We would not have had easy access to this information without EverTrue.
Accelerated Prospect Discovery and Qualification
This year, one of the OSU Foundation’s strategic priorities is to expand interest and development in the city of Portland. In addition to the proprietary scores they already use to identify and assign prospects, the OSU research team decided to take advantage of EverTrue’s predictive donor scores to enhance their Portland discovery efforts. These included the EverTrue Score (calculated based on professional, demographic, social, and giving data) and the EverTrue social score (calculated based on social data only).
Using EverTrue’s search function, Research Analyst Drew Phillips filtered the OSU constituent base to identify prospects in Portland with high scores. He organized the prospects into three buckets:
Drew then assigned the prospects to the development officers, who were unaware that the EverTrue scores had been used as criteria for assignment. For the next three and a half months, Drew evaluated the performance of the three prospect groups in terms of qualifications, visits, and moves to a major giving or annual giving portfolio.
- Typically, about 25 percent of prospects reply to gift officers’ cultivation overtures. In this case, OSU had a 44 percent response rate.
- The EverTrue prospect groups were qualified at a higher rate than year-to-date numbers and the OSU affinity group
- The EverTrue prospect groups were visited and moved to portfolios at a rate consistent with year-to-date numbers
- Officers secured 10 visits with EverTrue prospects, with 8 of the 10 moved to major giving or annual giving portfolios
Based on these initial successes, Drew and the rest of the OSU research team are excited to continue leveraging social engagement in their prospect scoring system. According to Drew, the team plans to layer EverTrue’s scores on top of their in-house scores as they move forward with EverTrue. This, he believes, will help them identify the OSU Foundation’s most ready, willing prospects and increase the development team’s ability to move constituents through the pipeline.
As a result of this discovery project, we’ve added a great number of major gift prospects to portfolios—folks who we would have never looked at previously. We found that social media engagement can translate to good major gift prospects.