If the core tenet of advancement seems simple – raise funds – the tracking and cultivation of those funds is a different matter. There’s prospect management, a variety of campaigns to manage, and the day-to-day communications with constituents.
Add the pace of technology and communications and it can feel like you’re trying to reach shifting targets.
In this three-part blog series, we’ll address the underlying technology that’s changing how the advancement industry works, as well as how it affects business processes and successful alumni engagement.
Let’s start with a high-level view of the technology behind successful modern advancement programs. There are three major technology shifts:
- Cloud-based platforms for data management
- Predictive analytics and artificial intelligence
- Mobile devices for major gift officers
In many ways, these go hand in hand and affect both internal processes of data management as well as communications seen by constituents. But it all starts with having a robust, cloud-based platform.
#1 Cloud-Based Platforms for Data Management
Advancement is complex. There are multiple layers of donors and campaigns to manage and if your tools are outdated, it’s a hindrance. If your organization has already moved to a flexible, cloud-based platform, you will know the difference.
Platform-based technology integrates well with 3rd party tools. For example, using a cloud-based platform like the Salesforce CRM means that you have access to the hundreds of applications that Salesforce has available on its AppExchange which in turn boosts ease of use.
- Platforms are simpler to update than proprietary software, including updating the supporting technology stack. With proprietary software, the entire application stack could become outdated quickly and may no longer do what you need it to do.
- Platform updates provide additional functionality which is immediately available without having to build additional software.
- Easier for new staff who may already have Salesforce experience.
- It’s also easier to identify skilled workers because they may already hold certifications for the platform.
Takeaway: A flexible cloud-based platform offers consolidated technology that enhances productivity and is never out-of-date so that you can reach your goals more easily. Our Salesforce-enabled platform was designed to handle all your advancement needs so you can manage your fundraising campaigns and community engagement within one tool.
#2 Predictive Analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning
We’re entering an era of highly sophisticated technologies that, at their core, are about an improved user experience. You’re probably familiar with the idea of artificial intelligence to some degree. Netflix is a familiar example in that it uses these tools to predict your taste in entertainment. Netflix bases your recommendations on your viewing history- allowing you to have a personalized list of movies, documentaries and TV shows that were selected based on what others with a similar viewing history like. Now, the advancement industry can use predictive analytics, like Netflix does, to improve communications with constituents.
For example, if someone is a theater buff and visited the department on their last campus visit, then it makes more sense to send them communications based on what’s happening within the theater department rather than the football team.
Takeaway: A modern CRM platform incorporates sophisticated technology that helps you build a 360-degree view of your constituents, so your communications are relevant and personalized.
Frontline development officers spend the bulk of their time on the road either meeting with potential donors or trying to secure meetings. A well-designed app that offers the ability to handle prospect research, log reports, and track campaigns right from the app is key to road warriors because it means less time on paperwork later.
Takeaway: With the right tools, it’s easier for your Major Gifts Officers to foster relationships with their constituents and be productive while on the road.
How Can Universities Pave the Way for These Changes?
These technologies are available today and the institutions that embrace these technologies will thrive in the years to come. One key is choosing a well-managed cloud-based platform with consolidated technology because this drives everything else in your program from business processes to engagement.
For example, when you choose a Salesforce platform based application, like Affinaquest, then it’s easier for the entire advancement department to be more productive because you’re using established tools that integrate well and are always current.
Another benefit is that it’s easier to find staff who already know how to use the system. This frees up IT to work on their backlog and other projects because they will spend less time updating the CRM.
The future of giving is rooted in technology. From a better understanding of your constituents to a mobile friendly app, Affinaquest offers a comprehensive solution to your fundraising needs. Because it’s built on Salesforce, you can take a modular approach to data management. You have access to literally thousands of Salesforce-enabled tools and it’s always up-to-date. See our unique iBob approach for yourself.