On this episode of the RAISE podcast, Brent talks to a long-time innovator, friend, and Advancement Services Great, Caroline Chang. After a varied career during which she “took the cookies as they were passed” (she’ll explain what that means), Caroline landed as the Vice President of Community and Product Engagement at UC Innovation. Caroline has worked extensively as an internal and external partner with almost every CRM system in the advancement space, so she knows the ecosystem of traditional alumni databases and what each of them can and can’t provide to fundraisers. Caroline was an early believer that if we can connect the digital engagement signals that alumni give us on social media with all the rich data that lives deep within alumni databases, we’ll have the recipe for fundraising success in a modern advancement shop. Besides being a techie, innovator, and expert integrator, Caroline is also a cat-lover, a knitter, a breast cancer survivor, the chair of the CASE Summer Institute for Advancement Services, and a larger-than-life friend with so much personal and professional wisdom to share. Thank you, Caroline, for being a star guest on the RAISE podcast.
Here are some highlights from the episode…
Nerds, unite! Caroline is a self-proclaimed nerd who has always been fascinated by technology.
Caroline started her advancement career on the Advancement Services team at her alma mater, Stanford. Because she was tasked with onboarding and training staff in the alumni database, she got to know her colleagues really well. (Now, her professional network is huge. There aren’t many people in advancement that don’t know, or at least know of, Caroline.)
Advancement Services folks are able to do a lot of things and solve a lot of problems that other advancement colleagues cannot. So, the VP of Stanford had Caroline on speed dial, and vice-versa. It made for great exposure to leadership early on in Caroline’s career.
Caroline loves sports. Like, really loves them. She loves that you can scream like a crazy person at a sports game and no one really thinks anything of it. She has only been kicked out of one sports game for an altercation with the ref. (Caroline, we believe you that he must have made a really bad call.)
Caroline retired from Stanford. Then, she came back to oversee prospect management and research, donor relations, facilities, budget, and human resources for the advancement team at Santa Clara University. What a re-entry to the work world.
Caroline met Brent at a BBCON conference. She greeted him not with a handshake or a “Hello,” but with a very direct “What do you do?” She heard him out, turned on her heel, and abruptly walked away. A few hours later, Brent was giving an in-depth EverTrue demo to Caroline and her colleagues. That was the beginning of a mutual mentorship and friendship that is many years in the works (and counting!).
Caroline is a jack of many trades. In her spare time, she runs The Catz Meow, a 100% volunteer-run leg-to-leg transport service for the safe relocation of cats and kittens in the continental United States
After so many years in the stable, slower-moving world of higher ed advancement services, Caroline took a risk to join UC Innovation, a woman-owned startup software company. Now, she gets to build a native, innovative product that integrates with the best niche software solutions to empower every aspect of advancement work. Needless to say, she doesn’t regret her choice.