Last year, the Bentley University advancement team concluded that even the most skilled and dedicated relationship-builders plateau in their outputs if they are not powered by the right technology.
By the right technology, we mean tech tools that give easy, mobile access to constituent data. We mean one-click, in-the-moment filtering and list-building. We mean intuitive interfaces that show a prospect’s giving patterns, wealth indicators, career moves, and digital footprint all in one place.
Bentley partnered with EverTrue to get their fundraisers out of Excel sheets and the complicated alumni database; to provide prospect researchers with automatic, human-verified career moves and a new tool to verify wealth data; and to give their annual giving and alumni relations teams digital insights to power segmentation and reconnect thousands of alums with their alma mater.
Here’s how they did it.
Table of Contents
Here’s a snapshot of the Bentley University advancement team before and after a year and a half of taking an EverTrue-first approach to their work:
It took gift officers days to weeks to enter contact reports after a few days on the road. They often asked Coordinators or support staff to enter contact reports on their behalf following a visit.
While traveling or working remotely, gift officers relied on a VPN to access the database.
Gift officers access constituent data anytime through the EverTrue app on their mobile phones or laptops.
The prospect research team completed tons of reactive research requests. They used a number of separate wealth indicator engines to mine high-net-worth prospects.
Job changes were manually updated in the alumni database, usually on a one-off basis as a result of a Google alert or staff member update.
The Annual Giving team was short-staffed, so segmenting year-end messages and targeted appeals fell to the back-burner.
Managers struggled to evaluate fundraisers’ activity and portfolio health due to lag time in logged interactions.
For gift officers
Before partnering with EverTrue, Bentley gift officers were tasked with logging their interactions and solicitation plans in their alumni database.
Like any alumni database, the necessary “stuff” (historical student, alumni, and giving data) was in there. But, true to alumni databases, it was difficult to actually do anything with the information.
Here’s what happened when Bentley gift officers were empowered with EverTrue.
Real time activity
Bentley gift officers enter contact reports from their phones or laptops from the road, and the contact reports sync from EverTrue back to their alumni database.
Gift officers no longer need to rely on support staff to input dated, second-hand contact reports into the alumni database. Instead, support staff are freed up to assist with more strategic tasks like uncovering new prospects and building out more robust itineraries.
One-click prospect discovery
Gift officers use the EverTrue app to filter by giving history, wealth and capacity scores, digital engagement, career info, interests and more.
They save searches and opt to receive automatic alerts about new donors in their region, their most-engaged potential prospects, or candidates for the next one-off project or campaign.
EverTrue pro tip: Search past contact reports by keywords like a beloved faculty members’ name to identify new prospects to support campaign priorities.
Bentley gift officers are back on the road this fall, so they will use EverTrue to collaborate with with colleagues to plan upcoming trips.
After traveling, gift officers can add interactions directly from the trip itinerary in EverTrue to make sure they don’t forget to add details from any prospect meeting.
They will also make use of the EverTrue map feature to Zoom in on prospects in the city they’re traveling to if they need to fill a time slot with a discovery visit, or if a meeting gets cancelled last-minute.
Measuring metrics and tracking activity has been simplified with the use of EverTrue. Now, managers can view a more accurate snapshot of gift officers’ outreach activity and portfolio performance, so managers can focus more on gift strategy, coaching, and mentoring with their team.
For prospect researchers
Bentley University is producing amazing content across its social media channels. And rather than let these digital insights go unnoticed, the Bentley Advancement Services team monitors profile matches for alums who engage with Bentley’s social profiles.
They have matched thousands of alumni with their Facebook profiles, and now gift officers have a subset of digitally engaged prospects to target with news and appeals once they show interest in athletics, university news or alumni social posts.
Thanks to the EverTrue-Windfall integration, the Bentley team identifies new prospects every 30 days with net worth over $1MM.
The team combines Windfall wealth indicators with automatic job change updates through Career Moves, and they can keep a close eye on which alums recently landed jobs in the C-Suite or at the VP level. They compare this real-time data with existing prospect ratings to keep a pulse on how internal practices compare with (and are improved by) new tech tools.
EverTrue pro tip: Gift officers can opt to receive automatic alerts when a prospect in portfolio changes jobs, reaches $1M+ net worth, or moves to a wealthy neighborhood.
For alumni relations and annual giving
In March, Bentley held their most successful Giving Day yet. Folks across the Bentley community, from athletics coaches to volunteers to faculty members, all went big on social media to promote Giving Day.
Bentley closed the day with over 1,000 donors, and they sent personal ThankViews to everyone who gave. Those ThankViews had a 60% open rate, which is over 3x the average for email open rates across the industry. And, the videos were all documented in EverTrue.
Every 90 days, the Bentley team receives human-verified job changes for all of its alumni. The advancement services & prospect research teams review these changes, update the alumni database, and flag high-level job changers for re-rating or gift officer outreach.
The Office of Alumni and Family Engagement use these EverTrue Career Moves updates to send a meaningful engagement message to alums. On a quarterly basis, the team sends “congratulations on the new job!” emails to job-changers.
The Bentley Annual Giving team uses EverTrue to identify alums who are engaging digitally or attending virtual events as a way to prioritize outreach.
By saving searches in EverTrue, the team can take charge of list building and personas, and receive automatic alerts for alums who show high engagement with Bentley’s social media posts.
EverTrue pro tip: Segment annual fund appeals by honing in on first-time donors; folks who gave on last year’s Giving Day; or alums who have engaged with you on social over 100 times, but haven’t given yet this year.
For fundraisers: Get mobile and nimble. Remove some of the guesswork out of portfolio management and prospect follow-up.
For managers: View a snapshot of your fundraisers’ activities so that you can focus more on strategy rather than administrative tasks.
For prospect researchers: Bring human-verified career and continually updated net worth data into your toolkit that automatically syncs with your alumni databases.
For alumni relations: Use career updates and digital engagement insights as a way to give value and meaningful content to your alums.
For annual giving: Take charge of list building and personas, and create targeted outreach based on donor interests, digital engagement, and giving history.
To work smarter and not harder, it takes a team going all-in to adopt a new tech tool and embrace a new way to fundraise. But, it’s the future of advancement, and Bentley has proven that it’s possible.