Our Top 5 Takeaways From RAISE Roadmap Day

What. A. Roadtrip.

RAISE roadmap illustration

20 speakers, countless giveaways (and getaways), and one wild ride later – and here we are! RAISE Roadmap Day was a fantastic event thanks to everyone in our community who showed up and participated. Thank you, all!

Missed the first spin or want to take a trip down memory lane? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered:

Buckle up for a look back at our top 5 takeaways throughout the day:

1. Human connection is why we do this work.

At the heart of fundraising is the act of building relationships. We traveled to the University of Wyoming to highlight the incredible true story of Lisa Yu, an alumna who fled the Beijing Communist regime and the horrors of the Tiananmen Square massacre to UW on a scholarship in the 1980’s. 

After graduation, Lisa savored countless campus mementos, photographs, and newsletters from her experience with the Cowboy community. She launched a successful career in California and dreamed of giving back to the place that gave her so much. 

But she fell through the cracks. 

When Donor Experience Officer (DXO) Doug Hammond contacted Lisa, it was the first time she had received a personal message from the University in 20 years. Through their ongoing conversations, Lisa’s dream to give back to UW became a reality.  She funded an endowed scholarship to support UW students in perpetuity. 

There are thousands of alums like Lisa who have a deep connection to their alma maters. However, unlike Lisa, many remain uncontacted. And worse, some show interest in giving back but are never engaged because of outdated data collection, restrictive portfolio sizes, and inefficient outreach tactics.

So, how did Wyoming break the status quo?

Jack Tennant is the Executive Director of the UW Alumni Association (UWAA). When Jack first stepped into this leadership role, he was tasked with building relationships with more donors. He considered hiring a number of Leadership Annual Giving Officers to manage portfolios of about 150 prospects each. That would have been the traditional route. 

Instead, Jack partnered with EverTrue to launch a Donor Experience program

Donor Experience programs are rooted in connecting with thousands more donors via consistent, ongoing outreach. Using EverTrue’s software, DXOs start every morning with a list of everyone who needs a call, email, or text based on each donor’s engagement or portfolio stage. Then, they plan and execute outreach, visits, and contact reports all in one place.

With tech tools guiding these fundraisers on who to talk to and when, they are freed up to focus completely on making every donor interaction personal and special. 

Jack worked with EverTrue to hire three DXOs (including Doug), to identify the next-best 3,000 UW prospects, and to execute the outreach strategy that grew revenue from prospects under management by 71% and made Lisa’s story possible.

You can watch Lisa’s amazing journey and hear Jack’s lessons learned from implementing a DX program below:

Documentary: A Donor Story Untold

Fireside Chat: UW's DXO Program

2. Mentorship matters for our teams and our donors.

Most of us can identify a mentor who has helped chart our course or guided us through a significant moment in our lives. In fact, we asked many of you to do just that during RAISE and your responses were inspirational! 

Everyone deserves access to the power of mentorship. And that’s exactly what Kim Nyoni, host of our new Mentorship Matters podcast, pointed out in his keynote on inclusive mentorship.

When it comes to building Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) on our advancement teams, mentorship plays a critical role. Mentorship is an act – it’s something you do, and advancement folks at all levels have the collective responsibility to ensure that we attract top talent that is reflective of the populations we serve, nurtures them, and stewards their experience so that they thrive. 

Kim and his fellow Black Leaders in Philanthropy members have put together a pledge that provides an equity in hiring framework. It’s an 11-step commitment that any institution can access to ensure action towards DEIB in our sector. This is one step we can all take together.

But mentorship shouldn’t stop there.

It’s a golden thread to weave not just through our approach to team building, but also our work in connecting donors to our institutions.

In the best-selling memoir, “Tuesdays with Morrie,” Mitch Albom, Brandeis ‘79, documented the transformative relationship he shared with his Brandeis sociology professor, Morrie Schwartz. Earlier this year, Lindsay Roth, Director of Direct Marketing and Participation, worked with Albom to challenge the Brandeis community to share stories about their own Morries.

They captured roughly 100 unique testimonials of “Morries” from alumni across the globe – a tapestry of stories of mentorship from people from all walks of life.

During the month of June, they used ThankView to send out these stories every Tuesday and 
follow up with specific niche groups (e.g. clubs, teams or departments), create content on social media, and give prospect managers a reason to follow up at a key time of year.

Brandeisians from all over the globe made gifts to Brandeis in honor of their Morries, exceeding their 350 donor challenge and unlocking an additional $50,000 for Brandeis students.

Lindsay gave this advice for replicating this heartwarming project at your institution:

“Every institution has Morries, the people who have worked to make a difference in the lives of others. Ask yourself who these people are and what narrative tethers folks to your organization through the community. Follow the rabbit holes and lean into those who are speaking with passion and from the heart.”

If you focus on good storytelling, the action will follow.

Check out a more detailed look at the Brandeis story and Kim Nyoni’s session below:

Tuesdays With ThankView at Brandeis

The Power of Inclusive Mentorship

3. You don't have to recreate the wheel to supercharge your results.

Iterating existing tactics and leaning into digital transformation is often the most effective path to truly moving the needle.

Bentley University is a business school. And that means that the population they serve expects them to be on the cutting edge of technology and smart communications.

Sending their constituents antiquated, unpersonalized paper mailings of annual endowment reports just didn’t match up with their school ethos. So, Bentley used ODDER (On-Demand Digital Endowment Reports) to digitally send custom reports to their top donors, including trustees.

They included a video from the Chair of the Investment Committee and tracked engagement and responses. Here are some of the replies they received:

"Great report and excellent video from the Chair of Investment Committee"

"I like the new format and the Chair of Investment Committee’s video overview was great!

"Wow - what a great looking report - very professional looking for sure. It was good to hear the Chair of Investment Committee talking about the endowment."

Another institution that has made big updates to their donor outreach approach is Louisiana Tech. They evaluated what existing data they could use to create a personalized touchpoint and made a commitment to congratulate every single alumni job-changer via ThankView. 

Madison Kaufman, LA Tech’s Director of Alumni Engagement sent personalized congrats messages to over 2,500 alums and segmented the “congrats!” messages by retirements, promotions, and job changes.

Madison tailored the level of personalization in her video messages depending on assignment, rating, and capacity indicators in EverTrue. The videos had a 60% average open rate and 37% click-through rate. Of the 2,500 alums who received congratulations, 150 made an annual gift, and 24 made gifts for the first time ever.

Explore the Bentley approach and a success story from Louisiana Tech’s Career Moves use below:

Sending Digital Endowment Reports at Bentley

Celebrating Alumni Job Changes at LA Tech

4. Data segmentation enriches personalization...and lives.

  1. Data is ultimately a way to better understand and tailor the way we approach our donors to align with their philanthropic values.

Last year, Kenyon College had the good fortune to be selected as one of the inaugural schools for the Schuler Foundation’s Access Initiative. This partnership aims to expand access for undocumented and Pell-eligible students to highly selective liberal arts colleges.

The Schuler Foundation matches up to $25M in new scholarship money with outright funds so the financial aid budget increases and supports students immediately. The money raised from donors remains invested and grows over several years, allowing participating institutions to add over $50M in scholarships.

Because the grant is structured to earn interest, it was clear Kenyon needed to access the match as quickly as possible.

Sarah Tancredi, Director of Major Gifts, and her team created a year-long series of highly curated events to highlight the Kenyon Access Initiative. The team hosted one virtual event as well as intimate gatherings of 25 people in Cleveland, New York, Chicago, DC, Seattle, and San Francisco to effectively reach their donor base across the country.

Gift officers used EverTrue for collaborative trip planning to get their President on the road, find prospects to fill out trips, build invitation lists for event series, and slice and dice data without wait times or silos. The team leaned into filters including rated prospects, prospects with compelling wealth indicators, and strong advocates with engagement across their fundraising initiatives and social profiles whose philanthropic passions aligned.

The end result? They raised the $25M needed for the match within a year of selection providing critical support for an underserved population.

Kansas State University is also taking this data-driven approach to lead generation by super-charging their annual fund work.

The annual fund is the foundation of a healthy, growing, and sustainable fundraising system that will keep the whole organization on track for years to come. With growing donor bases and limited resources, annual fund teams need the right technology that allows them to target the right alumni at the right time with the right message.

Here’s how the annual giving team KSU approaches their work as lead-generation:

  1. Social listening generates new leads.
  2. A data analyst layers data from alumni database social insights, wealth indicators, and contact report insights from EverTrue.
  3. The team holds tactical discussions to map new prospects alongside fundraising priorities.
  4. Leads pass to the Decision Sciences team for deeper research.
  5. Qualified leads are passed to gift officers for cultivation and solicitation.

Since starting this approach in 2018, KSU has seen almost 5% donor growth, identified 336 major gift leads, and added over $4,500,000 of delivered proposals to major gift portfolios.

They have also been able to better serve their constituents by delivering the appropriate opportunities that help them give back to the areas they are most passionate about.

For a deeper look at the Kenyon and KSU approach, watch the videos below:

Kenyon's Productive Prospecting at Events

The Annual Fund as Lead Generator at KSU

5. The journey is just getting started.

All of these stories are connected: fundraisers empowered by technology and services to cut out time-consuming administrative tasks and get laser-focused on what they do best  – building genuine relationships that last. 

EverTrue is committed to creating the end-to-end solution for insight, outreach, and analytics for higher education advancement and stewardship teams to lean into their work and break free from tiresome and outdated workflows.

In addition to bringing together platforms including EverTrue, ThankView, The Solas Group, Pledgemine, and Fundriver we’re creating new solutions to unify the process of collecting data, identifying prospects, and engaging donors.

Here’s what we’re up to and what’s next:

Where EverTrue is Headed

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