Southern Hospitality at CASE D3

Jesse and I spent President’s Day Weekend at the CASE District 3 Annual Conference in Atlanta.  According to CASE social maven Lynn Wester (@donorguru), CASE 3 has earned the reputation as the “party district.”  Our fellow attendees definitely balanced working hard and playing hard.

At first, CASE 3 felt a little like playing an “away game” after our last two conferences in the friendly confines of the Gaylord National Harbor for CASE-NAIS and the Boston Westin Copley for CASE D1.  This was Jesse’s first trip to Atlanta and it was my first time downtown.  Southern hospitality didn’t disappoint and we quickly felt right at home.  Jesse ate fried chicken, shrimp and grits and two servings of Fried Green Tomatoes in an 18-hour period.

We were fortunate to present “Implementing a Mobile Strategy” with our friend Adam Volant from The Virginia Military Institute.  Our conversation was timely as the day we presented the New York Times published Tech Predictions for 2013: It’s All About Mobile.

Our key themes were as follows:

  • Mobile is changing everything – from the way we monitor our health to the way we shop to how we control our temperature in our homes
  • A “mobile site” or “responsive design” is not a mobile strategy.  A mobile site is the bare minimum for any leading organization in 2013
  • If mobile is changing everything, what might that mean for advancement

We still have more questions than answers, but we’re constantly hearing of new ways mobile and social technology is changing alumni relations & development. We shared several examples including Foursquare’s Best Of lists, Countermarch System’s Lehigh-Lafayette Challenge, EventBrite Mobile and CardMunch.

Adam shared data and anecdotes detailing the manner in which thousands of VMI graduated have adopted EverTrue as the first location-based alumni network in higher education.

McCallie School launched EverTrue while we were at CASE 3, and it was exciting to hear that both Joe Painter and Will Kent had already begun using EverTrue to support their Major Giving and Annual Fund efforts in advance of their upcoming road trips.  They have received nearly 200 new e-mail addresses and over 15% of the Class of 2012 is using EverTrue just two days after launch.

We enjoyed meeting the Rollins College team in real life. Rollins is one of our newest partners and we’re very excited about growing our higher education presence in the Southeast with their support.

Jozi Snowberger from Elon shared anecdotes about her institution’s adoption of  Square for Advancement after a comprehensive security review.  A major gift officer recently collected a $5,000 gift via his mobile device.  Others in the room shared similar anecdotes.

A member of the team at Washington & Lee questioned the viability of existing “Text-to-Give” solutions.  She indicated that many of her peers have suggested that the complexities of collecting payments and identifying donors might not yet warrant the time investment required.  This will be an important area to monitor in coming months.

Lisa Snedeker and Gretchen Edwards from Wake Forest presented their innovative work around the first alumni webinar series focused on LinkedIn.  Over 10% of the Wake Forest law school alumni population has engaged with their most popular webinar.  Katie Neal shared more detail surrounding Jon Marcus’ recent USA Today story covering their efforts.

Kassandra Jolley and her Spelman team shared insights regarding their extremely high giving participation numbers (47%!).  We look forward to learning more about Spelman’s strategies in the coming months.  We also learned Kassandra is a Providence native and she seemed to appreciate my best attempt at a Rhode Island accent.

Finally, Pam Fountain from Brenau University referred Jesse to Southern Proper, an exciting company co-founded by one of her alums.  Jesse is always on the lookout for new bow ties and he spent time in between sessions browsing the Southern Proper selection.

The conference floor can be lonely at times.  Sometimes we feel a little like Ed Helms’ character in Cedar Rapids.  But we’re fortunate to have made some good friends over the last couple of years.  Most vendors are doing this work because we genuinely love our products and higher education.  We’d like to give a special shout-out to our friend Susan Sweet from Barrington Gifts, Marc and Shawn from MCR, Jennifer at  Eduventures, Mickey Munley from Community Phonecast and Allison Hinshaw from PCI.  We’re gearing up for upcoming trips to Nashville, Philadelphia and San Francisco in the next 3 weeks.  We look forward to seeing all of you on the CASE Circuit!

Ever True!

Brent and Jesse

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