Donor Relations, Technology & Operations

Your alumni sustain your university by donating and volunteering, so it’s vital to make sure they feel engaged in your community and appreciated for their contributions. Whether you do this by sending handwritten thank-you notes or hosting a variety of alumni events, your CRM can help boost your success.

Salesforce, one of the leading CRM providers for universities and nonprofits, offers multiple solutions that help universities streamline their operations, manage information, and engage students and alumni. We’ll break down five Salesforce tools you can use to increase alumni engagement and maintain their support:

  1. Salesforce Education Cloud
  2. Marketing Cloud
  3. CRM Analytics for Education
  4. Education Cloud Intelligence
  5. Event Management Apps

Each of these tools has unique features that support alumni outreach and engagement efforts. Let’s explore each one to help you determine which tools could be the best fit for your institution.

1. Salesforce Education Cloud

When looking into Salesforce tools for your university, start with Salesforce Education Cloud. Education Cloud is Salesforce’s comprehensive CRM system tailored to the needs of universities like yours. It’s a unified, native solution built on the core Salesforce platform that allows you to access key features without purchasing add-ons.

Along with housing all of your student and alumni data in one centralized location, Education Cloud includes features to help you manage fundraising and alumni engagement. With alumni directories, action-based alerts, and more features on the way, Education Cloud houses important alumni data and helps you act on that data to keep them engaged.

According to Redpath’s guide to Education Cloud, the biggest benefit of Education Cloud is that it provides a 360-degree view of your students and alumni. At a glance, you can see everything you need to know about a particular alumnus, such as graduation year, program, occupation, interests, and donation history. This information helps you better understand your alumni and create engagement opportunities that resonate with them.

Plus, once you have Education Cloud, you can add on any of the other tools we’ll discuss to tailor your Salesforce instance to your exact needs.

2. Marketing Cloud

If you need more robust communication features to connect with your alumni, consider Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud. This marketing automation tool helps you personalize alumni outreach by tailoring messages for specific segments of your audience.

When you integrate Marketing Cloud with Education Cloud, you can use the Journey Builder feature during your digital fundraising efforts to create robust automated email pathways to save time while engaging alumni. Common automated email journeys for alumni include:

  • Resources for recent grads: Create an email series that invites recent graduates to join your alumni portal, informs them of opportunities like career support groups, and provides them with links to post-graduation resources.
  • Fundraising campaigns: Announce your latest fundraising campaign to all alumni, then send tailored appeals based on donors’ ages or donation histories. Then, send alumni different campaign progress updates based on whether or not they’ve already donated and at what giving level.
  • Donor appreciation: Set up donor thank-you email journeys that tailor appreciation tactics for different giving levels and fundraising campaigns. For example, send donors who gave more than $500 an immediate thank you, a survey to provide feedback, and then an invitation to your upcoming donor appreciation event.

These aren’t the only email journeys you can create—you can get creative and leverage marketing automation for any of your alumni engagement needs.

3. CRM Analytics for Education

CRM Analytics for Education is an optional add-on for Education Cloud that helps you better analyze your university’s data and gain actionable insights. With customizable reporting dashboards, you can get insights on admissions, recruitment, student success, advising, and alumni engagement.

With this tool’s Alumni Insights feature, you can quickly discover valuable insights about your alumni like:

  • How many alumni use your alumni portal
  • Your alumni community’s top occupations
  • Learning achievements from your alumni’s time at your university and at other institutions
  • How many alumni have open alerts or cases

You can then use this information to improve your alumni outreach strategy. For example, you can use the insights on top alumni occupations to tailor matching gift appeals. Double the Donation explains that matching gift programs vary by employer, so knowing your donors’ occupations helps you provide them with relevant information about their employers’ programs.

4. Education Cloud Intelligence

If your university is interested in leveraging AI for fundraising, outreach, or any other goals, consider investing in Education Cloud Intelligence. This add-on to Education Cloud lets you leverage Einstein, Salesforce’s generative AI solution.

You can use Einstein to generate fundraising emails using your data, write event invitations, and predict alumni giving. For example, you might leverage AI to draft GivingTuesday messages asking your alumni for donations. Or, use Einstein’s giving predictions to set ambitious but achievable fundraising goals.

Just remember to proofread everything and check the accuracy of information provided by Einstein, as generative AI is not always correct.

5. Event Management Apps

Hosting events is a common and impactful way to keep alumni engaged in your university’s community, but they take a lot of organization and planning to be successful. Especially if you’re hosting a reunion or alumni weekend, there are many moving parts that can get overwhelming if you don’t have the right resources.

Fortunately, there’s a wide variety of event management apps available in the Salesforce AppExchange that can make hosting alumni events easier. You can use these apps to streamline and centralize your event planning and communications, track attendance and registration, and host virtual events.

Since most of these apps aren’t created by Salesforce, you may need to do additional research to find the best fit. Consider seeking out higher education Salesforce consultant who can help you choose the best apps and integrations that will allow you to boost alumni engagement with Salesforce.

Automating alumni engagement activities can bring your community closer together for years to come. If you’re interested in implementing Salesforce for your university now that you’ve seen what these tools can do for your alumni outreach, reach out to a consultant to discuss your technology needs and goals.

For example, BWF is a trusted Salesforce implementation and complex philanthropy expert. Through a partnership with the Salesforce experts at Redpath Consulting Group, we’re able to help organizations understand their technology needs and implement the right Salesforce tool that will optimize data management.