Customer Stories:

How the University of Wyoming Generated 6x Revenue Within the First Year of Their Donor Experience Program


The University of Wyoming Foundation is an independent, nonprofit corporation that raises and manages private gifts to maximize support for the University of Wyoming.

Through the generosity of UW’s many alumni and friends, the UW Foundation raises an average of nearly $50 million a year in private support — funding that goes to students and the faculty, staff, and programs that support them.

The Challenge:

The Foundation’s donor count and revenue from the phone program had flattened over the last several years. Each fiscal year, the team had raised an average of $145,000 from just over 1,000 gifts via the phone program. They were looking for a way to engage more donors and generate more revenue in a way that was more intentional and efficient.

Why evertrue:

The Foundation partnered with EverTrue to dissolve their in-house phone program and reallocate that budget to launch a digital-first, Donor Experience Program. Through this partnership, they were able to increase the prospects under management, engage more constituents, and ultimately provide a better, more personalized experience for their alumni and donor pool.

The results:

In FY22, the Foundation raised $1.1 million from 3,081 donations.

Donor Experience Officers partnered with MGOs to secure $700,000 in additional gifts.

The team saw a 3x increase in donations and more than a 6x increase in revenue.

The UW Foundation doubled the number of prospects under management.

The team saw a 2000% increase in overall donor outreach activity.

The story behind the results

In FY21, the University of Wyoming Foundation team faced a challenge many institutions also encounter: flat donor counts and a stagnant phone program. They recognized this as an opportunity to think outside the box, to try something new, and make a change with the goal of increasing their ROI. 

As Chair of the UW Board, Mary Shafer-Maliki noted, “Everything is outcome-based. So we can have the best ideas in the world, but if we don’t see the appropriate outcomes we need to shift, change, and pivot.”

Enter: The decision to dissolve their in-house phone program and reallocate that budget towards launching a Donor Experience Program in partnership with EverTrue.

The decision to make the switch to a Donor Experience Program

The reality was that there were approximately 20,000 donors in the $1,000-24,999 range who deserved special attention, but they just weren’t getting it via the phone program. The traditional voicemails left by phonathon callers weren’t getting the job done – they needed more personalized outreach. Something that was data-driven. More efficient. More intentional

By adding three Donor Experience Officers (DXOs), Wyoming would now be able to give 1:1 attention to donors who previously were not receiving personalized stewardship – or attention at all!

Donor Experience (DX) Programs help institutions manage thousands of their best, overlooked prospects. DXOs focus on building relationships with portfolios of 1,000+ donors, and EverTrue’s software guides them on who to talk to and when while providing them with a stream of continually updated engagement, wealth, and career data to create a personalized experience for each and every donor.

And the donors wouldn’t be the only ones getting special attention – the DX team also receives coaching and training from dedicated Donor Experience Program Managers (DXPM): EverTrue employees (all former fundraisers!) who are responsible for ongoing oversight of the program. DXPMs regularly report on donor retention, reactivation, revenue, and project pipeline, and serve as an empowering resource not only for the DXOs, but also for the prospect research team and beyond. Talk about a powerhouse unit!

Recognizing that this mix of technology, constantly-updated data, and real-life, human support spells out a recipe for success, Wyoming took the plunge to go all-in. And the UW Foundation Board was quick to embrace this new approach as they could see the numbers and data behind what this program could look like. 

“This is a way to reach our donors, improve our relationships, improve the productivity of our staff, and ultimately improve our ROI. Frankly, it was an easy call because it made sense – it was the next natural step for the Foundation to take.”
Mary Shafer-Maliki
Chair, UW Foundation Board

Hear more from Mary Shafer-Maliki, Chair of the UW Foundation Board

And taking that step has really paid off.

DX in practice at the University of Wyoming

Clancee Rea, director of Annual Giving and the Donor Experience Program, manages a team of three DXOs. Each DXO currently has a portfolio of 1,000 and reaches out to upwards of 30 donors per day.

How do they manage these large-scale portfolios?

Each day for a DXO begins with a set of clearly defined to-dos and goals. EverTrue’s technology and proprietary touchpoint plans lays out exactly who they need to contact, and how. Gone are the days of spending hours getting organized and charting the best course of action. By taking away all of the guesswork, EverTrue empowers Donor Experience Officers to spend less time on administrative tasks, engage more donors, and ultimately close more gifts by taking away all of the guesswork.

Once a prospect is added to a DXO’s portfolio, a cadence begins. A cadence is a prescribed touchpoint plan that guides the DXO’s outreach via phone, email, and social media, making sure that no donor gets left behind.

While working through the cadence, the DXOs add in personal touchpoints to help engage that donor further, using information they find via the EverTrue platform (Think: recent job changes, Facebook engagement, past giving history…so many options!) Depending on how that donor responds (or doesn’t respond), EverTrue moves them through to the next scheduled outreach. 

The key thing about cadences is that EverTrue schedules every touchpoint, but leaves room for the DXO to personalize each message.

As Toby Marlatt, vice president for Marketing and Communications, noted:

“We know that in fundraising, people give to people. The cadence is automated, but it’s very tailored to the recipient and they feel that personal connection. We have to make sure that personal connection is part of all of our engagement strategy”

The tech stack that the DXOs have at their disposal helps them stay on task while creating a tailored experience for each donor. Having these tools built into their process helps them to work efficiently,  to connect with a large number of people on a personal level, and to make connections with constituents who may not have been engaged with previously with a traditional model.

How do they know it’s working?

In FY22, the Donor Experience Program had generated $1.8 million in total revenue. That number speak for itself: this decision is really paying off.

This increase in revenue can be tied to the fact that Wyoming doubled the number of constituents that are now assigned to a portfolio by onboarding three DXOs:

“We knew when we started this partnership that that’s exactly what we were looking to do. I can see the level of activity, I can see the interactions…we’ve seen so many instances already where there were attempted interactions years ago but they never went anywhere. The DXOs have proven in this first year that they can have a lot more success.”
John Stark
President & CEO, University of Wyoming Foundation

Onboarding the DX program at the University of Wyoming has brought about many successes – from revenue generated to the uncovering of impactful stories like Lisa Yu’s (if you haven’t seen A Story Untold yet, it’s definitely worth a watch). And this is just the beginning. Moving forward, the team is looking to expand DXO portfolios beyond 1,000 – continuing to refine their qualification processes and to bring more folks into the fold. 

It’s a simple equation we often mention: More touchpoints = more engagements = more leads = more revenue generated. The University of Wyoming team is leading the charge in discovering what’s possible when you think outside of the traditional phonathon box, and we are so excited to see where it goes next.

“I know we’re reaching people we never would have been able to reach. We’re touching them in a more meaningful way, and that’s going to bear fruit.”
John Stark
President & CEO, University of Wyoming Foundation

Hang Up the Phonathon: How Wyoming’s Big Shift Drove ROI

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