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    By Drew Fox Jordan • February 17, 2021

    Gravyty at CASE All Districts: Our Favorite Sessions From Day One

    We know you can't attend every session, so for this year’s CASE All Districts Conference, Gravyty is providing you with some recaps from sessions you couldn't make it to for you to get caught up.

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    Here are the sessions the Gravyty team has enjoyed so far:

    COVID-19 Lessons Learned for Online Alumni Engagement

    As devastating and challenging as the COVID-19 pandemic has been this year, it’s also created a lot of advances in online alumni engagement from creative alumni professionals forced to rethink how to engage alumni in a new reality. Sarah Szabo, J.J. Slager, Jeff Williams and Zach Rubin will follow up last year’s standing-room-only presentation at CASE V with a collection of innovative programs for engaging alumni online and advice for thinking about where alumni relations can go from here in a world that has been profoundly changed.

    Recap: Prior to the pandemic, Furman University was not doing any virtual events and jumped into them without much experience. They were pushed outside of their comfort zone and learned as they went. They crushed attendance numbers for things like virtual game nights and career panels for younger alumni, as well as started a business series lecture with faculty/alumni which was previously done in different cities, but now they’re able to gain access to more alumni to feature/attend. Overall, the trends are increases in attendance and a broader reach that they were not able to engage before with in-person events.

    Reimagining Alumni Weekend: From Good to Great to Virtual

    For significant engagement growth, sometimes traditions must be evaluated and reimagined. Between 2018 and 2019, New York University took time to transform Alumni Day into a full weekend of activities, resulting in the most attended alumni program. After winning both a Silver and a Bronze CASE Circle of Excellence Award for this transformation, we faced the challenge of moving the program online in 2020. From 750 alumni to 1550 alumni to 5000 alumni attendees, this session will review the two years of change endured with NYU Alumni and Parents Weekend.

    Recap: This session provided strategies for providing alumni with an authentic alumni weekend, virtually. Once people sign up, the key is to keep them engaged with fun content so they want to attend and interact with the program. however this poses the question: What content do we provide? What is the tech that we need to be using? Is it in house? How will we organize the schedule? Live or on demand? Interactive?

    Fundraising Storytelling: Data Analytics and Visualizations in Advancement Services

    Advancement services professionals should be focused on: 1) Gathering data about constituents; 2) Measuring effectiveness and impact of fundraising efforts; 3) Leveraging technology to improve processes and insights; 4) Getting information into the hands of those who need it most. This "big picture" thinking creates context and outcomes that people may be drawn to. This clarity means every decision you make and every action you take can be measured to show how it impacts the organization. In this session, attendees will get an idea of identifying and/or implementing KPIs for data analytics that lead to dynamic interactive visualizations.

    Recap: This session started by going over key metrics - how do you see a story in random data? The focus should remain on the audience (donors). They want to know where their money is going, and it remains important for fundraisers to be able to communicate that with donors in a timely manner. With this said, how important is this data to the donors? The info that is important to fundraisers and the info that is important to donors may be different.

    Inside the Journey and Results of Implementing and Adopting Artificial Intelligence

    This session provides candid lessons and practical tactics surrounding the implementation of Artificial Intelligence across the entire giving pipeline. Set against the backdrop of implementing A.I. at The Oregon State University Foundation, the vendor and project champion take you along the journey of actual implementation, the successes, failures and results will provide a step to step guide to implementing Artificial Intelligence.

    Recap: Oregon State brought in Fundmetric to help improve their data quality and “future-proof” their dataset. Their idea is to build a better database, giving fundraisers the exact right people to reach out to based on AI-driven insights of who is likely to give and how much. Fundmetric CEO Mark Hobbs said “AI helps because people don’t want to be harassed for gifts”.

    Managing and Hiring Your Advancement Team in a COVID Environment

    As advancement leaders seek to manage through COVID and the social movements of our time, many questions arise. How can I best manage my team in a budget constricted environment? How can I make the financial case for hiring advancement talent in the future? What resources and energy should I be putting towards retention? Specifically, what should I be doing to create an inclusive environment for my diverse workforce? It's an exceptional time, and this session will ask a diverse panel of some of higher ed's premier advancement leaders to share their thoughts about the current advancement management landscape.

    Recap: “Being two dimensional helps us listen better and gives us a window into who we are”- allowing potentially greater intimacy. Is it possible to have a stronger connection further away? Morehouse College advancement team is expanding, spurring a discussion about persuading a board to approve an expanded budget. It was suggested to "start with productivity and data” to justify investments.  During times of reckoning like these (pandemic, racial justice, facts/science), universities are incredibly important. Begin the process of thinking through a transition to a “new normal” now. It’s a slow ramp up, not an immediate return, and leaders have to start thinking about what has added value in the last year and what can go back to how it was.

    Persona Marketing: What Is It? How Do You Do It and Exceed Expectations?

    At HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, we know people relate to people, but we wanted to take our real student stories and images a step further to recruit future students. From implementing a casting call to creating four-phase integrated marketing communications plans for each of our three diverse personas, you will find at least a few nuggets to take back to your teams. We will discuss our strategies for reaching traditional, nontraditional and workforce students, how the campaigns have exceeded our expectations and our “don’t do that again” list.

    Recap: This was a really good presentation on how HACC strategically developed persona’s and then did a casting call to pull in 3 students ($1,000 each off of tuition if they were chosen) and then used them for marketing to connect with future students and alum. They used real student stories and saw great impact and value.

    Business Intelligence Solutions as a Strategic Initiative to Support NYU Fundraising Efforts

    The NYU team will share our success story of implementing the Business Intelligence intranet site, aka the BI portal, from the ground up.

    Recap: “Business intelligence is about providing: The right data, at the right time, to the right people, so that they can make the right decisions”. NYU had to re-imagine and rebuild prospect records. But once they cleaned and prepared data they built with Tableau, they had 50 dashboards and self service reports, in digestible and compelling format to help shift behavior of the entire team, frontline and back end. Results include a new, effective and data driven strategy and improved data entry. Buy in from fundraisers achieved with top down roll out and champion strategy.

    Marshaling Your Resources: Leveraging Key Advocates and Building an Advancement Board & Board Building and Leading with Purpose

    Join us for a practical hands-on session and answer the questions: “Why start an advancement board? Will it be worth the work/time?” Presenters will share experiences from three institutions, offering real-life examples of how to create a board or re-energize an existing one. Most often, boards are composed of volunteers eager to help — but without the proper structure, guiding documents, and positive collaborative partnership, a board can become rudderless. Learn how you can activate your board, create internal buy-in, set expectations to ensure success, and create shared sense of purpose within your institution

    Recap: UConn, Oakland University (Michigan) and Kettering University discussed setting up an advancement board and the difference between an advisory board (members provide council) and a governing (power to make change). They discussed why you should create a board, how to create a board and how to activate the board. Ultimately the board allows for high-level engagement with prospects, access to leadership, information sharing (eliminate silos and provide new perspectives), network building, and professionalization. The board should be diverse and mirror the current student body. The goal of any board is to foster strong, authentic relationships.

    Elevating Expertise: Leveraging Faculty and Staff Experts Across Communication Platforms

    Every college campus has experts who can contribute to their areas of research and professional skills to the news of the day. But finding those experts and connecting them with media opportunities isn’t easy. And once you’ve landed a media placement, how can you get the most out of your efforts? The University of Richmond media relations team will share three ways to best leverage experts to land national media opportunities. They also will share five ways to maximize media placements by showcasing how media placements can be used across University platforms and divisions to reach target audiences.

    Recap: It is important to remember that as a fundraiser you are a Brand Ambassador. Your communication with Alumni, Parents, Donors and Prospects is critical to the schools overall success. Always be aware of faculty expertise and stories that are being promoted around campus and utilize that material with your portfolio to present a unified front.

    What sessions are you attending this year? Connect with the Gravyty team and let us know what you have learned at #CASEalldistricts this year!

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