Boston University’s Annual Giving and Engagement Teams Connect Alumni to the Right Opportunities With EverTrue
Boston University (BU) is a leading private research university with two primary campuses in the heart of Boston. BU’s annual giving and engagement teams work to connect alumni with the causes they care about at BU through giving and volunteer opportunities. BU holds 400,000 records in their Blackbaud database.Challenge
Since 2010, BU had increased staff time and budget on social media and attracted over 270,000 fans on its general Facebook page and over 77,000 on its alumni page. However, BU’s annual giving and engagement teams sought a way to capture all of that social data and use it to support annual fund participation and dollar goals.Why EverTrue
EverTrue helps BU gain a deeper understanding of their constituent base by combining valuable insights from Facebook with their existing data. Having tracked over 1 million engagements across over 20,000 BU Facebook posts, EverTrue provides the BU team with additional insight into alumni’s interests, passions, and affinities.
As a result, BU’s annual giving and engagement teams have been able to collaborate on social media content for targeted fundraising initiatives, monitor who’s engaging with the content, and market to alumni on a more personal level to increase loyalty and support. EverTrue is now an important part of their multichannel strategy to surpass $20 million in annual current-use revenue year over year.Results
• 1 million+ engagements tracked across 20k+ Facebook posts
• Helped BU raise $5 million for a new Alumni Center
• Helped BU raise $2.3 million from 11.5k+ gifts on Giving Day 2017
• Increased support for student scholarships by seven percent year-over-year
Our goal is to connect our alumni with a cause that they care about at BU, in a way that compels them to give financial support. EverTrue gives us important affinity and engagement data to help us make those connections.
A Donor-Centric Fundraising Strategy for the BU Alumni Center
When BU kicked off a project to convert an iconic, 100-year-old building known as the Castle into a new Alumni Center, the BU team announced the exciting news on Facebook and began publishing a series of posts about the Castle.
The posts wound up garnering hundreds of likes and comments from alumni and constituents. As part of their fundraising strategy, the BU team decided to take advantage of that valuable data to help generate support for the $5 million Castle renovation.
In EverTrue, the team used the keyword search feature to pull lists of people who had engaged with Facebook posts mentioning the Castle. They then put those engaged contacts into the telefund program for prioritized outreach.
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While phone solicitations generally yield a 30 percent conversion rate (the percentage of people who answer the phone and make a gift), telefund calls about donating to the Alumni Center saw an impressive conversion rate of 75 percent.
“It was a huge uplift,” Stephanie Quinn, director of annual giving, said. “Our success was due to a combination of being able to market a specific cause and using EverTrue to make sure we targeted the people who were most likely to give.”
Kristy Kime, associate director of online engagement, echoed the value of connecting her team’s social media efforts to fundraising projects such as the Alumni Center—for which construction is already in motion.
“Engagement is great, but at the end of the day we also need to help raise funds,” Kristy said. “EverTrue is a like a lead generation tool… it brings a new set of data that we can use to conduct targeted marketing about a campaign or event.”
EverTrue is like a lead generation tool. It brings a new set of data that we can use to conduct targeted marketing about a campaign or event.
Acquiring Donors and Online Ambassadors for a Record-Breaking BU Giving Day
BU’s targeted approach also played out on BU Giving Day 2017, a universitywide effort to raise support for a variety of BU causes—including colleges and schools, campus clubs, athletics, and more. In the four-week period leading up to the Giving Day, BU created social content promoting the event and made EverTrue lists of constituents who engaged with those posts.
According to Phil DiMartino, associate director of annual giving for digital programs, the team funneled those post engagers into segmented email appeals that contained unique messaging. They also targeted that audience with a Facebook ad asking them to sign up to become online ambassadors and to help spread the word for the Giving Day.
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“EverTrue gave us a leg up in terms of knowing how to communicate with that audience,” Phil said. “We were able to take it to the next level and be a little more direct in our asks and solicitations with that group.”
The targeted messaging has paid off: supported in part by identification in EverTrue, the team has seen 52 percent growth year-over-year in their ambassador base, with around 380 total ambassadors today. In addition, with EverTrue segmentation incorporated in their strategy, BU shattered previous records to raise $2.3 million from over 11,500 gifts on the university’s fourth-annual Giving Day.
EverTrue gave us a leg up in terms of knowing how to communicate with our Facebook-engaged Giving Day audience. We were able to be more direct in our asks with that group.
Beyond large-scale campaigns, the BU team continues to find creative ways to use EverTrue in their everyday work. Recently, they’ve been sending appeals to contacts who engaged with Facebook video content about current scholarship students.
The emails—which contain messaging about the impact of scholarship giving and include a direct ask—have an average open rate of 36 percent. In addition, gifts to BU scholarship funds are now up seven percent year-over-year.
“We know about the alumni who received scholarships or those who’ve given to that area before, but EverTrue data helps us find new people who might be interested in the cause,” Stephanie said.
No matter the initiative—whether the Alumni Center, a giving day, or scholarship fund—with EverTrue in their wheelhouse, BU is able to connect with more potential donors and increase awareness for the different opportunities to propel the university forward.