Higher education institutions rely on fundraising to give their students the best experience possible. Whether you need to pay for scholarships, renovate campus buildings, or fund your athletic programs, raising funds from your community of donors and alumni is the answer.
But to raise funds efficiently and reach your fundraising goals, you need the right technology. We’ll cover three essential tools you can use to raise more for your school:
These core tools will put your university in a better position to track, analyze, and boost your fundraising results. However, every school has different technological needs, so make sure to evaluate your existing systems before investing in new software. Let’s get started so you can determine which tools may be right for you.
1. A Comprehensive, Unified CRM
Before looking at any other tools, ensure that you have a constituent relationship management (CRM) system that can serve as the foundation of your technology stack. Your CRM tracks not only individual donations, but also all of your university’s relationships with donors, alumni, and students. Since fundraising is all about relationships, your CRM will be your most essential tool.
It’s important for your CRM to be both comprehensive and centralized so that every staff member can find all the information they need about your institution’s relationship with someone at a glance. If they have to search through multiple different departmental databases, your staff could miss out on a variety of fundraising opportunities.
For example, Redpath’s guide to Salesforce Education Cloud, one of the top higher education CRMs, explains that this CRM gives university staff a 360-degree view of students and alumni by housing all student data in one place. The guide provides the following visual to illustrate how beneficial these insights can be for your institution:
From a comprehensive student or donor profile like this, you can quickly see valuable information such as:
- If a donor was in a fraternity or sorority
- Which campaigns they’ve donated to in the past and how much
- Which donors or staff they have personal connections with
- Their communication preferences
- Demographics like career field, age, and current location
With this information, you can more effectively tailor your fundraising appeals to each donor’s interests and preferences. The more personalized and relevant your appeals are, the more likely the recipients are to donate.
2. Marketing Automation Tools
Once you’ve strengthened your university’s technological foundation by investing in the right CRM, you can explore additional tools like marketing automation. These tools help you save staff time, make your appeals more personal, and ultimately boost your fundraising success by automating marketing tasks.
For example, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, a marketing automation solution for the Salesforce CRM, lets you create automated email journeys for specific donor segments. Essentially, you create a set of emails for a specific purpose, such as communicating about a fundraising event. Individual emails can be automatically sent over weeks or months, and they can even branch off into different directions based on donors’ actions.
An automated email journey promoting an alumni fundraising event might look like this:
- An initial invitation email is sent to all alumni of the College of Fine Arts two months before the event.
- For those who register, they receive a thank-you email with additional event information immediately after registering.
- For those who haven’t registered a month before the event, they receive a reminder email.
- In the weeks leading up to the event, both groups receive additional emails tailored to their registration status.
With the right tools, you won’t be limited to just emails. You can automate higher education text messages and even create automated surveys that ask different questions based on the donor’s last response.
3. Matching Gift Software
Corporate matching gifts are a popular type of corporate giving initiative in which companies match their employees’ donations to nonprofits and other organizations. This often occurs at a 1:1 ratio, meaning that a donor’s $100 gift to your university would be matched by a $100 gift from the company, totaling $200 for your school.
If you’ve never explored this lucrative fundraising idea, it’s time to tap in. These programs benefit everyone involved—donors, businesses, and, of course, your university. Your donors will jump at the chance to make more of an impact on your school without opening their wallets any further, and businesses will appreciate being seen as a charitable corporation in the public eye.
Fortunately, there are tools your university can use to take full advantage of this fundraising opportunity.
Matching gift software allows you to leverage a comprehensive database of companies with matching gift programs that your donors may work for. According to 360MatchPro, these tools allow you to:
- Access a database of thousands of companies’ matching gift programs and their program guidelines.
- Automate matching gift outreach to make donors aware of the opportunity and let them know how to take part.
- Streamline the submission process for donors by adding a matching gift search tool to your donation page or even automatically submitting their requests.
- Track matching gift metrics for your university, such as match requests made, matches completed, and total funds raised from matching gifts.
Plus, you can integrate your matching gift tool with your CRM to streamline the outreach process even further. Pull data straight from your CRM’s donor profiles into your communications about matching gifts to heighten customization and increase the chances of completing that match.
All of these tools can help you see more successful fundraising results, but investing in the software is just the beginning. To use new software effectively, you also need to thoughtfully implement it, train your team, and use it strategically.
If you need help determining the best CRM to invest in and implement for your university, or if you want to improve your existing CRM, consider reaching out to a higher education tech consultant. With the best tools and the right support, you can boost your university’s fundraising results in no time.