Oklahoma State University Boosts Digital Annual Giving With EverTrue
John Grice is the assistant director of annual giving at Oklahoma State University (OSU), a large public research university in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The OSU Foundation manages over 400,000 records in their database, Raiser’s Edge.Challenge
As a member of the OSU annual giving team, John focuses on cultivating young donors and developing digital programs to support the university’s donor-centric approach to annual giving.
Yet, it was challenging to build these types of campaigns without an easy way to segment constituents and understand their online activity. John wanted to be able to uncover constituents who have risen their hands to say they care about specific programs—and then target them with relevant opportunities to support OSU.Why EverTrue
In EverTrue, OSU saw a unique opportunity to identify individuals who are engaged and interacting with the university online. John knew that the data available in EverTrue—including Facebook engagement indicators, LinkedIn career details, and giving history—would help the team target the right groups and provide a better service to campus by surfacing constituents who care about OSU programs but who have not yet been asked to give.
EverTrue has been tremendous in helping us engage alumni digitally and target the right people for campaigns. We would not be able to be as effective in the digital realm without it.
Targeting the Right Alumni with the Right Ask
One of John’s major goals is to ensure that they are asking alumni for the right amounts at the right time. Part of this involves understanding where their alums’ “Orange Passions”—or interests—lie. According to John, EverTrue helps them learn just that through offering easy access to Facebook data.
In fact, the Facebook data in EverTrue has been key to helping John target donors during a recent campaign for the OSU Cowboy Marching Band—a group that has a “leaky bucket problem.” Although the group has an active fanbase and an even more active Facebook page (over 24,000 engagements across 400 posts on the page), donor retention has traditionally been low.
To yield better results for the campaign, John tried a different approach. He worked with the Cowboy Marching Band social media team to schedule Facebook content about the campaign, tracked engagement with that content in EverTrue, and pulled the post engagers into an EverTrue list. Then he asked the marketing team to send email appeals to:
- The list of engagers from EverTrue
- Past marching band donors
- Former marching band members
“We’ve seen great results from the push. One person on the Facebook engaged list just made a $500 gift,” John said. “He was put on the EverTrue list just because of interactions with the marching band online.”
Identifying Quality Digital Ambassadors
As John and his colleagues prepare for OSU’s first giving day in 2017, recruiting a team of digital ambassadors who can help spread the word is top of mind.
“We created a proprietary process for determining who will make a quality ambassador… looking at things like whether they’ve given and their degree of social interactions, especially Facebook comments,” John said.
Using EverTrue’s search filters, the team was able to run searches to identify and vet potential ambassadors.
A sample search in EverTrue
Once John and his team had the final list, they shared it with the leaders of OSU’s different units and secured approval to move ahead. Come early next year, John said, they’ll be asking those individuals to become digital ambassadors for the giving day.
The overlay between EverTrue and our database has really helped us connect the dots and identify people who have capacity but who are also highly engaged online.
Stewarding Relationships with Alumni
John manages a portfolio of young alumni—many of whom he has identified in EverTrue—and actively seeks out opportunities to start conversations with these individuals based on their passions.
On the other hand, he also makes sure to monitor what they might be upset about; John keeps a saved segment in EverTrue that alerts him any time a constituent reacts as “Angry” to an OSU Facebook post.
With these instant notifications, John can check out which post the constituent reacted as “Angry” towards, take a look at the constituent’s profile, and decide whether or not to get in touch with him or her about the incident.
“There was an instance where we reached out to an individual to identify what they thought that challenge was and why they were upset—sort of taking on that role of a digital gift officer,” John said. “It turned out they just had a bad experience and that’s fine… it was a good touchpoint and it was helpful for us to know.”
As a parting note, John shared an amazing story about a time they were able to connect social media engagement to fundraising dollars:
“We had a $1,000 gift come in through our crowdfunding platform that we were curious about. The gift was towards a program that the person had never given to before, and it was substantially larger than any other gifts that came into that program.
Of course we could have called the donor and asked her why, but with a quick search in EverTrue, we were able to look her up and view her Facebook comments and likes. We realized that she had been engaging with every post on our pet therapy page for three months. We were able to create a profile for this person and understand a little bit more about her ‘Orange Passion’ because of EverTrue’s documentation of her social media interactions.
Without EverTrue, we wouldn’t have known that. It validates the work we’re doing on social media and creates a good story to share about how we’re engaging people digitally.”