Customer Stories:

George Washington identified 778 new major gift prospects and created $6MM in proposals for hard-to-fund projects.


The Division of Development and Alumni Relations at George Washington University is dedicated to fostering meaningful connections with alumni and cultivating philanthropic support for the university’s programs and initiatives. Through strategic fundraising efforts and engaging alumni outreach, the division plays a crucial role in advancing the university’s mission and enhancing the overall GW community.

The Challenge:

The team needed to identify potential donors for three specific fundraising projects: renovations to the Thurston Hall dormitory, funding for a new building for Hillel (the world’s largest Jewish campus life organization), and securing major gifts for the growing Colonial athletic program. The team needed to start from scratch and find prospects for these initiatives.

Why evertrue:

Anne Dean and her team used EverTrue’s features, such as keyword searches and filters like “Lives in a Wealthy Neighborhood,” to identify high-net-worth prospects with the right engagement and interests for each project. EverTrue’s Facebook integration was also utilized to leverage social media engagement in prospect identification.

The results:

The team Identified 17,000+ leads and referrals (2/3rds who had never given to GW).

100% of these leads were contacted with an ask to contribute to the Thurston prospect.

~10% were reached 1:1 by GWU fundraisers.

This outreach lead to 105 $50k+ proposals, 66 of which have been accepted.

In the end, GWU acquired 274 new donors, and reactivated 384 lapsed donors. Of the original group of Thurston prospects, 27% made a gift, totaling $4MM+ in new gift revenue.

The GW team identified 778 new major gift prospects and created $6MM in proposals for three hard-to-fund projects.

Like many advancement teams, the Division of Development and Alumni Relations at George Washington University faced a challenge. They needed to build major gift pipelines for three fundraising projects that didn’t come with a built-in list of prospects. The staff started from scratch to find donors for complete renovations to the Thurston Hall dormitory, to fund a new building for Hillel (the world’s largest Jewish campus life organization), and to secure major gifts to support the growing Colonial athletic program. 

The university already had some information from donors who had given to related funds, but it hadn’t consistently captured or shared campus involvement in clubs and sports with Development. The team had to start with proactive prospect discovery and activate the Giving Funnel to find the right prospects for these initiatives.

Anne Dean, GW’s Managing Director of Research and Relationship Management, and her team used EverTrue to find high net worth prospects with the right mix of engagement and interests to become major gift candidates for each project.

Thurston Hall is home to 40 percent of GW’s first-year students. Built-in 1929 and named for GW’s first female undergraduate student, Mabel Nelson Thurston, Thurston is a historic campus building that holds a lot of memories for alumni. But it also was aging and needed a makeover. 

“We used EverTrue’s keyword search to mine contact reports for any prospect who had mentioned ‘Thurston,’” Anne said. “I also looked at a list of former Thurston residents and added the ‘Lives in a Wealthy Neighborhood’ search filter in EverTrue to find potential donors with capacity.”

Anne ran similar searches to find prospects who were interested in supporting building a new on-campus home for Hillel. She looked at people who had mentioned Hillel in contact reports, lived in neighborhoods with high income or real estate values, and had donated to GW to build her prospect pool. Each query takes seconds to run in EverTrue and researchers can save these searches for ongoing notifications any time someone matches the criteria, creating an ongoing, automated stream of new prospects.

“This would not have been possible without EverTrue,” Anne said. “It’s so much easier to look through contact reports, build lists, and download everything to sift through while you build a nice gift pyramid.”

She and the team also used EverTrue’s Facebook integration to find alumni who commented on posts about Thurston or Hillel or liked multiple posts, using that social media engagement to generate more leads.

“EverTrue shows you who’s a warmer lead than you think. Our CRM doesn’t show that. EverTrue shows us who’s warm, engaged, and likely to give.”

The development team also supports donor identification for GW athletics, with the Colonials fielding 24 NCAA Division-I men’s and women’s teams. GW added season ticket holder information to EverTrue, giving the team an easy way to look at past giving, gift capacity, student activities, social engagement, and ticketing all in one place.

“With a few searches, a research team member identified more than 100 prospects and sent Athletics-focused gift officers the top-10 potential donors by capacity,” Anne said. “For some, the person’s connection to athletics wasn’t apparent outside of their Facebook activity. We didn’t have them listed as an athlete or athletic donor in our CRM, so the team wouldn’t have found them any other way.”

Anne and the research team used EverTrue to identify 778 prospects for these projects and passed those leads to GW’s frontline fundraisers. 

The team engaged more than 340 of these people, which led to 90 new prospects assigned to gift officer portfolios. 

In fewer than eight months, GW has received more than $300,000 in new gifts and has an additional $6 million in proposals that the team expects to close in the coming months.

“EverTrue is great for sending prospects to fundraisers because you get to put the sizzle with the steak,” Anne said. “When we uncover a new prospect, we can see how they’re connected with us and that they’re engaging right now. It helps us make the referral and say, ‘Go, go, go!” to the gift officer.”