What Will The Future of Advancement Hold? An Interview with Jeff Shy and Melissa Kwilosz (Ft. John Taylor)

What Will The Future of Advancement Hold? An Interview with Jeff Shy and Melissa Kwilosz (Ft. John Taylor)

What Will The Future of Advancement Hold? An Interview with Jeff Shy and Melissa Kwilosz (Ft. John Taylor)
January 18, 2021 James Werner

This is Part 3 of a conversation I had about advancement with two thought leaders in the advancement space- Jeff Shy, Founder and Chairman of Affinaquest and Melissa Kwilosz, Salesforce Consulting Director at Huron. 

If you missed Part 1 and/or 2, here are the links to those:

Part 1: Choosing a CRM

Part 2: Implementing Success with Affinaquest + Salesforce

John Taylor: Melissa, what would you like to see as the coolest new enhancement that Jeff might consider adding to Affinaquest?

Melissa Kwilosz: If we could get Jeff to really give us an indicator of how people are feeling these days, that’s what we need to know. 

There are so many different components that impact someone’s willingness, ability, sentiment and affinity to donate these days. With exciting developments in machine learning and analytics right now, there’s so much potential. 

If we can take that underlying technology and really fine tune it for advancement, identifying that person who is potentially ready to be a first-time donor or the individuals who are demonstrating behaviors of a major gift donor, that’s the future.  

Advancement organizations typically have a lot of data at their fingertips, but tracking more behavioral data, understanding the meaningful patterns, and taking the right action at the right time is more challenging. To the extent that Jeff and others can work on some development to get those bells and whistles fine tuned and surface those insights to development officers, actions they can trust and incorporate into their day to day work, I think that’s the next step.

John Taylor: Jeff, I’d love to hear you close out our session today with some thoughts about the future of advancement systems. 

Jeff Shy:  When I was working in advancement, we’d finished a capital campaign and it was clear that all the money was from the big donors. The real question was to find out what those big donors looked like when they were in their twenties and thirties, so we could start working with them sooner.

I came to realize fairly quickly that there were a couple of problems. One, nobody had the historic data to do that. We knew big donors when they were 70 years old, but we had no data on what they looked like when they were 30.  Two, even if we knew all that, we had no tools with which to really analyze it. 

Now we have those histories and the tools. 

There’s still some work that is needed with pulling it off completely, largely surrounding machine learning as it relates to fundraising. Not much has been done with artificial intelligence in advancement to date.

The next steps would need to start with gathering wealth screening information then letting the machines look for indicators we think would be of interest, bringing that information into the system, and then using some of the built-in AI tools in Salesforce to generate the information and findings back to the major gift officers. 

We are interested in looking at stock transactions, real estate transactions, other changes in wealth or changes in wealth indicators that a major gift officer ought to be aware of without having to ask about it. We’re going to go find it for them and start applying that artificial intelligence. 

We are most likely going to leverage Salesforce’s Einstein Next Best Action to present this information, back to the major gift officer in a way that becomes actionable to them and suggests to them, “here are some things you can do based upon this.” 

I think our next big frontier to go after is artificial intelligence and machine learning and applying that to the advancement space.

Thanks for tuning in to Part 3 of our conversation with Jeff Shy and Melissa Kwilosz. If you missed it, be sure to read Part 1, where we discussed selecting the right CRM, and Part 2, where we discussed implementation.

What do you think the next best thing is in advancement? Let us know by commenting below.


The Affinaquest Advantage

At Affinaquest, we know there have been differences between various generations of donors and how they interact with their schools in the past. However, many of those differences are now being stripped away as we embrace this new normal brought on by COVID-19.

Comfort levels with technology are becoming stronger as more people acclimate to a more remote lifestyle. That’s why we’re proud to have our CRM built on the Salesforce platform. As Salesforce is constantly evolving to adopt new technology, our CRM continues to future-proof itself through this partnership giving you the tools to be adapt and succeed.

Ready to secure better opportunities for advancement for your institution? Request a demo and see how Affinaquest can give you an advantage in creating an engagement score system that helps you create and nurture the constituent relationships you need to secure the funds for your school’s future.

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