6x meetings, 34%+ in gift revenue: Wins and lessons from the Donor Experience Academy at Emory University

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One year ago, Emory University launched the first-ever Donor Experience Academy — a program designed to train brand-new fundraisers in the art of high-volume, personalized donor engagement.

Emory invested in a Donor Experience Program, hired three Donor Experience Officers (DXOs) who are all new to frontline fundraising, and simultaneously created the DX Academy. Led by Elizabeth Chapman, the DX Academy is a yearlong, intensive training on how to be a successful development officer.

The curriculum included lessons on:

  • The ins and outs of fundraising at Emory such as who to talk to about donor conversations, different units, regional officers, and planned giving
  • Qualification, especially for leadership-level donors, and determining what kind of impact they want to have with their philanthropy
  • Active listening — because asking the right qualification questions is just the first step
  • Objection handling to get to a meeting (and getting to the second visit)

And connecting each DXO with a mentor at Emory to help with ongoing career development (We love mentorship at EverTrue!)

Throughout the year, the DXOs built on what they learned in the Academy and put it into practice daily. Each DXO was assigned a 750+ person portfolio with the goal of reaching every donor with consistent, personal communication.

With weekly coaching from Sarah Duhon and Coleman Walsh, EverTrue Donor Experience Program Managers, the team learned the art of polite persistence and leveraged EverTrue technology to connect with 20-40 donors daily. 

DXOs enrolled each donor into a cadence — a templated touchpoint plan based on that person’s giving and engagement. These cadences guide outreach for all DXOs, providing them with daily prompts to create a custom email, call, or message for their assigned prospects.

Return on Emory’s Investment

This consistent outreach lead to the DXOs booking more than 360 meetings, collectively, in their first year as frontline fundraisers. (For reference, a typical, fully ramped gift officer books 84 meetings a year.)

And while meetings are amazing for donor engagement, at the end of the day, fundraisers need to raise those funds.

Prospects assigned to Emory DXOs gave 34% more in FY22 than they did in FY20, the year before the program launched. To date, DXOs have also identified six major or planned gifts at $100k or above.

And Emory has enhanced its talent pipeline with three fully trained, fast-moving, technology-embracing, donor-engaging fundraisers.

With the first year of the DX Academy in the books, Emory has enrolled a new class of two more DXOs (with two others joining the team later this year). Even bigger things are coming!

Learn more about the DX Academy at Emory University

Read Josh Newton’s blog post about the DX Academy and its potential for building talent pipeline. (Josh is the SVP of Advancement and Alumni Engagement at Emory).

Read and watch Josh and Elizabeth talk about the early days of their program.

Want to talk with an EverTrue expert about what it takes to launch a Donor Experience Program? We’d love to chat!

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