Endowment reporting season can be one of most stressful times of the year for advancement shops. And it’s also one of the most critical. Here’s how you can simplify the endowment reporting process, improve workflows, and set up your team (and your donors) for success.
“Painful”, “stressful”, and “it feels great when it’s over” is how Lynne Wester of the Donor Relations Group describes the endowment reporting season. She’s referring to the huge spreadsheets, sorting of countless columns, pivot tables, manual editing, inevitable mistakes, and the copious, complicated back-and-forths.
Informing donors on what fundraisers did with their money is no small feat – but it’s an important one to get right.
Most organizations are handling thousands of funds and, most of the time, the systems gathering the data don’t communicate with one another – leaving the door open for a lot of mistakes when compiling and writing endowment reports.
Here’s Lynne’s take on some of the additional stressors that are present during endowment reporting season:
So…how can you take the stress out of your endowment reporting process?
Lynne points to three key steps for simplifying and de-stressing endowment reporting:
- Compiling data and collaborating with stakeholders to get accurate information
- Simplifying the process to understand who needs a report and when
- Taking a step back and asking, “Is there a different way to approach endowment reporting that can make life better for all involved?”
Enter: ODDER (On-Demand Digital Endowment Reports)
ODDER provides on-demand digital endowment reports that are personalized and securely delivered to donors via email. In ODDER, there are no complicated portals to maintain or new processes to adopt – rather, the tool allows donor relations to compile all fund data efficiently and accurately in one spot, collaborate on report edits, and send to donors securely by email.
We know what you may be thinking: Top donors are accustomed to receiving printed versions of endowment reports, so they’re going to be thrown off when they see their fund report in their email inbox.
Well, get this. Since launching the ODDER tool three years ago, our partner institutions have sent over 400,000 digital endowment reports and only 0.3% of donors have requested a print copy.
In fact, organizations like UNC Chapel Hill have found that their donors have preferred receiving their reports digitally.
As a very large and decentralized institution, compiling data and building reports at UNC Chapel Hill was a heavy lift across the board. (Disparate systems, copious spreadsheets, and too many cooks in the proverbial fund reporting kitchen.)
For the UNC Chapel Hill team, ODDER streamlined cross-team collaboration and fund data collection, and it garnered an incredibly positive response from donors. Donors have voiced excitement to receive a digital report that’s easy to share with their friends and family, and that they can access at any time from their phones or computers.
Take a look at what Brandy Polo, Donor Relations Officer at UNC Chapel Hill, had to say about sending digital endowment reports to their top donors:
Bridging the gap between Finance and Donor Relations teams
Here’s a trivia question: What’s the single most important relationship for Donor Relations teams to have (outside of the ones with donors, of course)?
Answer: An open line of communication with their Finance Office colleagues.
As Lynne Wester puts the Donor Relations-Finance Officer synergy, “This is a roommate situation of sharing the same living space, which in this case, are the endowed funds.”
These two departments approach fund reporting from different perspectives. The Finance Office sees the “hard dollars” side of the equation – you know, the number that power things like team budgets and university investments. Donor Relations folks always have the donor experience front-of-mind, and are focused on communicating fund impact and making donors feel important and appreciated.
But, just like two roommates who have different cleaning schedules but both want to enjoy a kitchen without flies, the end goal for Finance and Donor Relations teams is the same: to deliver an accurate, digestible report on the fund’s annual impact to the donor.
Donor Relations folks aren’t the only ones that can implement a new tech tool (ODDER) to streamline communication and data-sharing efforts between these two teams. Balance by EverTrue is designed specifically for Accounting and Finance teams who manage endowed funds. Not only does Balance allow you to easily track, report on, and manage endowed funds, but it allows Finance folks to share read-only information across the organization so that department heads can access critical fund data at any time.
With ODDER and Balance, gone are the days of Excel sheet back-and-forths between siloed departments. By implementing tech tools that empower seamless and secure data sharing and collaboration, we can bridge the great divide between Donor Relations and Finance offices.
Donors deserve transparency. And Donor Relations and Finance teams deserve their sanity during endowment reporting season. The good news? Both are possible and within reach when you have the right tech tools in your toolkit.
Ready to streamline your endowment reporting process? We’re ready to chat – let’s make it happen!