Category Archives: Education

CRM for Alumni and Development

CRM for Alumni and Development

Back in the summer, we published Next Generation CRM for Education (Schools, Colleges and Universities), focusing on Salesforce and the opportunities presents for teams and organisations to re-imagine how they work and provide significant customer benefits.  

Read the whitepaper via Slideshare or PDF

Since then, two things have happened.

  1. We’ve had some really engaging conversations with student recruiters and alumni professionals.  
  2. Salesforce have also shared their plans for Advancement Connect – a new product which will launch in 2015.

Our conversations with higher education professionals have confirmed further what we already knew:

  • Most feel their existing CRM tool can’t keep pace with the way they work today – multiple relationships, networks, partnerships, social channels and integrations with other systems and tools.
  • There is a lack of time to find out about new tools and changes to CRM that could help, or its just not a priority in all the other tasks
  • Some are uncertain about what new-style CRM can deliver in real terms – how much time will it save? how much can be automated? what can be integrated?
  • current Raiser’s Edge users are starting to think about making a switch – but are confused about what to switch to, when, and what developments might be released by Blackbaud.

As a team, we have extensive experience of working with Raiser’s Edge so know how it works and how its been configured to meet the requirements of different teams – the thought of switching to anything else is scary.  You might not have too, either – other tools and integrations are possible to extend the life of this tool. 

But what Salesforce have to show us with Advancement Connect is important too – a real shake up for the sector.

Changing your approach to CRM is the first, and most important step to getting ahead of your competitors and upping your game.  CRM is about more than a donor database or enquiry records management system.  Its a way of thinking. 

What do we mean?  The easiest thing is to show you.  We hosted an event earlier in the year to showcase Alumni relationships, and recorded it. Watch back at your leisure and find out for yourself what crm for alumni can look like now

Watch the Alumni and Development webinar (You Tube)

Salesforce 1 for Higher Education & Advancement Connect

Advance, Connect, Engage, Appeal

We love a good action word as much as anyone else so imagine how pleased we were to see these words linked with the news of Salesforce 1 for Higher Ed & Advancement Connect pop up on the Salesforce Foundation website.

We keep an eye on our partners websites, and as you may know work with Salesforce and the Salesforce Foundation to support a range of non profits to consider Salesforce, and then to implement the tool for them.

One of our key audiences is higher ed (and by that we mean independent schools, further ed colleges, higher ed colleges, universities and anything in between), so it’s good to see this tool emerge for this market.

It looks much like we might be on track for a great solution – and by great we mean ‘even better than anything else we’ve seen’, since Salesforce is already pretty great in our opinion!

You can see for yourself what is on offer via the web links – but it looks like Advance Connect could be tool that could spell the end to data silos in different departments and finally let recruitment, alumni, development, faculty staff et al use the system to meet their needs.  And have one single relationship and customer record through a students lifetime.

We’ve been chuntering on about how much this is needed for a while, so to find it could be part of this tool is *quite exciting* .

The timing of all this is great in 4 ways!

  1. We know lots of people need this – its good to get a tool that will meet customer demand!
  2. This will only be the beginning – take SF1 for Higher Ed, Advancement Connect and add in the App Exchange and tools like Exact Target Marketing Cloud and the world is well, not quite yours for the taking, but you know where we’re going with that thought!
  3. Steve is off to Dreamforce in San Francisco so can find out much much more for us while he is there and able to see the tool, talk to the developers and uncover the roadmap for the product – watch this space for more of the ‘low down’ and check out his video blogs (from 13 October)
  4. We have 2 events taking place on November 5th – one for Student Recruitment (in the morning from 10-12), and one for Alumni and Development teams (in the afternoon from 2-4).  Both of these will share the potential of Salesforce and talk through some of the features and benefits which we elaborate on in our whitepaper (via Slideshare, via website) – so we can share anything we do find out.

If you’re in the sector and want to book either event, click this lovely link to go to the booking page. 


PS Steve will tell us more about the exciting news about NGO connect when he is at Dreamforce!  If you want to be inspired in the meantime, watch the video here.

Schools don’t use their databases to full potential

Earlier this month we spoke at the Institute of Development Professionals in Education (IDPE) Conference.  We offered delegates, mainly development professionals from Independent Schools the opportunity to win a bottle of champagne in return for completing a short survey.  out of 125 Schools represented at the Conference 32 delegates completed the questionnaire.

The results are interesting.  The schools that took part in the survey were all using a variety of databases including Raiser’s Edge, Donor Strategy, WebALUMNUS, InTouch and several other smaller systems.

The Survey found that only 32% of Independent Schools use their development database to its full potential.   This suggests to us that some schools may have purchased systems with functionality that they don’t need, or those with smaller development teams may not have the resources or time to get the most out of their system.

In some schools there is not a proper cross-organisational database so the development teams’ system is not compatible with accounts, marketing and admissions.  This will cause difficulties for the school as the amount of information they need to store and use between departments increases.

At the Conference it was noticeable how little development teams know about alternative databases.  It’s essential that the schools do due diligence when purchasing a new system as functionality varies and schools could very easily overpay for a system that is too complex, or buy a system that doesn’t provide them with the appropriate platform for their long-term growth.

However, one particular result from the survey was encouraging.  We were really pleased that the majority of schools had control around financial processing.  68% of delegates believed their school was maximising its Gift Aid reclamation.  The work we have done in this area suggests that some schools are doing this better than others.

It would be interesting to ask the same questions of other small charities involved.  Are these conclusions just specific to development teams in schools or do other non-profit organisations think the same way?  We would like to hear your views.

You can see more details of the survey here: