Empower Gift Officers: Lessons from UVA

Office excitement and job-well-done’s are never in short supply whenever Mike, our go-to Webinar Master here at EverTrue, and the behind-the-scenes crew wrap up a new webinar. We’re used to riding a high once things go (mostly) smoothly and all the prep work pays off.

But we’ve never seen anything like what happened after Mike and Molly wrapped up this past week’s webinar with the University of Virginia. People in the office were practically bouncing off the walls with excitement.

If you tuned in, you probably know why. If you want to experience it for yourself, you can do that here. And if you just want a quick recap so you don’t feel left out, we’ve got that below.

Why was everyone buzzing? It’s no secret that we’ve long loved UVA, but Deke Shrum and Adam Fentress (plus surprise-to-everyone-but-especially-us Julie Featherstone) gave us a behind-the-curtain look into problem solving that would help so many of the schools we talk to each and every day.

Like lots of schools, UVA had a data flow problem. They also happened to just announce a $5 billion campaign. Maybe you’re not tackling something quite so ambitious, but can likely relate to some data headaches. With 26 decentralized units across campus, they found that their data was silo’d and information gaps from unit to unit were rampant.

Plus, each division seemed to be using a different technology to access or update the data. Basically, they had a ton of obstacles to deal with while undertaking an enormous goal.

Deke, the Senior Director of Digital for Advancement Operations, knew they needed to empower gift officers with better access to the data and more friendly tools. They also wanted to stay nimble, with the ability to adapt to changing technology on the fly.

Here are all the ways they empowered their gift officers:

Mobile Friendly

Four or five visits in a day can be stressful. But now UVA’s gift officers don’t have to worry about cramming a whole day’s worth of meeting prep in over their morning coffee. Using EverTrue they can pull up profiles on the way to a meeting to go over the profile and old contact reports. Then as soon as the meeting wraps up, they can enter and file a new contact report within minutes while the information is fresh.

Complete Profiles

Two words: Fresh data. It’s critical. But not just having it. Having it in a usable form for gift officers. When they’re in the field, not only are profiles more robust, but they’re actionable. Making sure all the data syncs with their main database is still important for UVA, but the priority is that it’s available in the moment it’s most needed.

Improved Travel

Gift officers who are traveling to similar areas to collaborate on trips or compare notes in real time. They also have access to a radius search on a digital map, which Adam noted has not only helped enormously for filler visits when meetings are canceled, but for uncovering nearby prospects that were completely off his radar prior to the trip.

More Data

Gift officers have seen unexpected results from data from Eventbrite and digital engagement reports, using it to discover new prospects. But even more than that, as gift officers have become more comfortable with exploring EverTrue, they’ve uncovered data they’d never had before and have started to share it and collaborate with other members of their organization in ways they’d never done before.

More and better data is something every fundraising team could use to empower gift officers. Our biggest takeaway from talking with Adam and Deke (and Julie!) is that getting access to it isn’t as tricky as we often think it is.

As the University of Virginia shows, you don’t have to let headaches with your central database slow you down. Despite being in the middle of a painstaking process of evaluating CRM providers and considering a database conversion, their gift officers have never been more empowered.

No matter what your current relationship status with your database is, the tools are out there to get the absolute most out of it.

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