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, raising over $70,000 to date.

The results:

Successfully completed a $3 million professorship from 430 donors.

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

Identified new leadership and major gift prospects.


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 brings 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 bringing 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.

UVA Giving Page

Data Analyst Jason Nack also finds it helpful to see gifts and donors in an EverTrue list. 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.

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.