Customer Stories:

The University of Virginia uses EverTrue to fund two $3 million professorships


The University of Virginia (UVA) College Foundation for Arts & Sciences is the largest of over 20 foundations within the UVA advancement system. UVA manages over 200,000 records in their database, Ellucian Advance.

The Challenge:

Finish out a $3 million campaign to create a professorship in honor of the late Julian Bond, a prominent civil rights leader who had taught at UVA for two decades.

Execute a mid-campaign fundraising push for a $3 million economics professorship in honor of beloved Economics Professor Ken Elzinga.

Why evertrue:

By harnessing Facebook data from EverTrue, UVA was able to expand their marketing reach and close out a 10-year effort to fund the Julian Bond professorship. The team identified 1,000+ people who had engaged with Facebook posts related to Bond and then reached out to them via direct mail, email, and phone—resulting in UVA’s first-ever successfully crowdsourced endowment.

For the ongoing Elzinga professorship campaign, UVA is also using social media data to create a more targeted outreach strategy. So far, the team has raised over $70,000 through branded giving pages created in EverTrue, with an impressive 50 percent visit-to-gift rate across the pages.

The results:

Successfully completed a $3 million professorship from 430 donors.

Raised over $70k online so far for the Ken Elzinga professorship.

Achieved a 50% visit-to-gift rate on Elzinga-branded giving pages.


The full story:

As part of a final push to fund the Julian Bond Professorship of Civil Rights and Social Justice, the UVA Arts & Sciences team—led by Director of Engagement and Annual Giving Valerie Oswald—turned to EverTrue to refresh their marketing strategy and complete the long-running campaign.

“The biggest reason we wanted EverTrue was to pull engagement information on our constituents from social media and take advantage of it,” Valerie said. “We used to have a student mine through social media posts. Now EverTrue ings in all of that valuable data automatically.”

With EverTrue, Valerie and her data analyst colleague Sarah Sawtelle saw a huge opportunity to leverage the Facebook content that UVA was sharing about Bond’s legacy. Hundreds of people, both alumni and non-alumni, were engaging with the content and writing heartfelt comments about Bond.

This sparked an idea: why not target Facebook-engaged constituents in the next set of appeals? Using EverTrue, they pulled lists of anyone who had liked or commented on Facebook content that mentioned Bond. The commenters received a direct mail piece, and the “likers” received an email appeal.

“EverTrue allowed us to find people who were interested in Julian Bond’s work and really wanted to honor his legacy. We wouldn’t have had any way of finding those people otherwise,” Valerie said.

In addition to the direct mail and email pushes, the team identified higher capacity, engaged donors in EverTrue and passed them along to development officers for phone or in-person solicitation. The hard work and collaboration paid off: near the end of 2016, UVA closed the million-dollar gap and successfully established the professorship thanks to the generosity of over 400 donors.

The success of the Bond campaign proved that inging social media data into the fold could have a measurable impact on fundraising dollars. The UVA team is currently applying those same Facebook-targeting tactics to an ongoing $3-million campaign for the Kenneth G. Elzinga Professorship in Economics and Law.

This time, UVA also wanted to enhance and personalize the giving experience for alumni. They decided to use EverTrue’s online giving pages for solicitations tied to the Elzinga campaign—allowing them to and the pages with a photo of Elzinga, create a frictionless donation experience on any device, and track gift results in real time.

UVA Giving Page

“I love that EverTrue puts the power in my hands to create and manage the giving pages,” Valerie said. “I can easily carry the and of the campaign through to the donation page. Plus I can get gift alerts and watch the funds come in immediately.”

Data Analyst Jason Nack also finds it helpful to see gifts and donors in a live dashboard. He can quickly look up each donor in EverTrue and forward people with more giving potential to development officers.

In one case, Jason saw that a Facebook-engaged donor who gave to the Elzinga campaign was halfway towards the leadership-gift level. Jason passed the donor on to a development officer, who immediately got the donor to double his gift and enter into a larger pledge agreement.

Although the Elzinga campaign is still in progress, the team has pulled in over $60,000 (and counting!) through EverTrue giving pages with a 50 percent visit-to-gift rate. According to Valerie, the team plans to continue driving people to the pages through creative tactics—such as holding a Facebook Live session with Elzinga and orchestrating an appeal based on engagement with that video.

In fact, Valerie and her team are so pleased with the results of EverTrue that they’ve moved all of UVA Arts & Science’s online giving efforts to EverTrue.

“The giving pages in EverTrue have better functionality, the forms are shorter, and they raise more money,” she said.

With simple segmentation, affinity-based targeting, and attractive giving pages, UVA is able to match donors to the right giving opportunities—a modern annual fund approach that’s already making a difference at the university.