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Colleges & Universities Choose Salesforce to Accelerate Advancement ROI

College graduates smiling
With, Morehouse has developed better-informed campaigns aimed at alumni and donors.

As advancement leaders at higher education institutions consider their options in the age of COVID-19, they’re rethinking conventional wisdom by choosing Salesforce to build lifelong alumni and donor relationships. The world’s #1 CRM enables institutions to operate more flexibly, securely, and resiliently, helping them emerge on a stronger footing for the future.

In the most financially challenging time in the history of higher education, proving the value of your technology investments is more important than ever before. A recent study by Forrester found that higher ed institutions using Salesforce “improved relationships with alumni and enabled record-breaking fundraising,” saved $2.4 million in legacy cost savings.

Innovative colleges and universities, including USC, Stanford, Purdue, Rutgers, Michigan State, UPenn, and Notre Dame have recently implemented the Salesforce platform to help modernize their fundraising, personalize engagement, and conduct AI-powered research and reporting to inform strategy and measure ROI.

Morehouse uses tech to transform fundraising

Morehouse College, the only historically Black liberal arts college in the U.S. dedicated to educating and developing men, lacked the marketing and fundraising technology to make the college more competitive for multi-million-dollar gifts. For one thing, its alumni and donor data were scattered in a variety of places, making it difficult for its advancement team to find and act on meaningful insights.

Monique Dozier, vice president of institutional advancement at Morehouse, says that with the transition to Salesforce, the advancement office raised a record $107 million—an eight-fold increase over its levels from 2013 to 2018 and the highest total in Morehouse history. On Giving Tuesday 2020, the new tech platform by Salesforce allowed the advancement team to greatly improve its efficiency and data reporting speed. “It saved us 150 hours of human capital time,” says Dozier.

“I advised the college’s Board of Trustees that if we wanted to raise $50 million to $75 million a year, we’d need the tools, staff, and resources — and better technology was a big part of that,” she says. “Salesforce always stood out to me because if you need a solution, you can find it right within its ecosystem. There is a full landscape of offerings.”

Purdue increases productivity

Purdue University evaluated five vendors before the COVID-19 pandemic, and ultimately chose Salesforce because of platform scalability, flexibility, and its strong partnership with UC Innovation. They went live with Salesforce CRM at the beginning of this year.

“Having our whole organization and our constituents connected to one platform is extremely powerful. We’re excited to grow our usage more broadly across campus,” says Michelle Bates, assistant vice president for IT, CRM and Data Analytics at the Purdue for Life Foundation.

Bates says “making the system our own” with easy-to-use dashboards that provide stakeholders self-service access to data has increased productivity by freeing up analyst time to focus on more strategic innovation.

People posing and smiling
Purdue For Life Foundation was designed last year to deepen ties to Purdue alumni.

Portsmouth modernizes through integration

By 2030, the University of Portsmouth aims to be the top modern university in the U.K. and one of the top 100 young universities in the world. To achieve that goal, however, they knew they had to evaluate their disparate fundraising and communication systems. They discovered that the staff were spending way too much time manually integrating data — time that could be spent on more strategic initiatives.

Woman smiling
The University of Portsmouth modernized its fundraising and communication systems to better engage with students and alumni. Image courtesy of the University of Portsmouth Alumni website.

The university chose Salesforce to help capture and integrate the various ways constituents engage with the university, which has allowed them to manage relationships cohesively in an individualized manner.

“Salesforce lets us plan our outreach activities so that we’re approaching fundraising activities in a way that makes sense while still keeping enough irons in the fire to reach our goals,” says Derek Thomas, advancement operations manager at the University of Portsmouth.

Thomas and his team are currently building their reporting capabilities in Salesforce to provide data visualization to senior management, enabling them to better understand what’s going on with different alumni and advancement activities, and how they’re tracking fundraising goals.

“Our vision was enterprise scale personalization and automation, and that’s what Salesforce helped us achieve,” Thomas says.

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