Case studies in cross-silo teamwork

Monica Keith from Washington & Lee Univerity is presenting on collaboration across ogranzaional lines. The synopsis promises to cover several topics of great relevance to my work this year: online communities, scholarship tracking, prospect management systems and developing training systems. These are all on my plate for this year, so I am eager to hear what she has to say.

Monica finds herself more and more "coming out from behind the computer" to build relationships with colleagues. The keys to this are management, leadership and collaboration. She recommends that Advancement Services serve as the navigator. People don't know what we do, so we are the ones who have to build bridges, since nobody is going to come to us if they don't understand what we can provide. She will walk us through some case studies, and the opportunities for collaboration that each presented.

Monica is beginning with database conversion, the classic giant project for Advancement Services. Post-conversion, we have an opportunity to identify new possibilities. Are there things we can do now that we could not do before? In Monica's case, this was prospect management and soft crediting. Post-conversion training sessions provide an opportunity for Advancement Services to market ourselves by showing off what we are already doing. Regular trainings also provide the opportunity to build a core base of users who can give feedback. Focus on your users' immediate needs, anticipate needs, provide additional software training beyond your database, and provide handouts which will become your procedures manual.

Defining report requirements for prospect management provided a huge opportunity for Monica's team to build trust and collaboration with development staff, provide partnership that produced useful information, and to elevate the reputation of her team.

Now Monica is talking about scholarship stewardship. This is often messy, as it involves various departments across campus. Providing annual reports to scholarship donors required multiple spreadsheets and was very time-consuming. Monica's shop was able to pull together the data into their constituent database, and to provide a report on which scholarships had been awarded, to whom, and then to generate scholarship reports to donors. A key step in this process was communicating the value of the providing the required information to financial aid and the business office. The scholarship stewardship process was reduced by 4 weeks, the number of students writing thank you letters went up dramatically, and the director of stewardship was able to spend more time on stewardship and less time on tracking.

Now, social media -- lots of folks are coming to Monica with many ideas about social media, begging the question of to what extent this falls into the fundraising operations shop. She's been a part of a few web redesigns, where nobody raised their hand to generate the content. Advancement Services can provide the backend, but who manages the messaging?

Email is Monica's next case study. A lot of people are sending emails, often to the same people. They have a traffic control issue. And some staff are sending directly from Outlook, providing no opt-out option. Monica figured out their alumni could get over 200 emails per year from them.

They are addressing this via a communications audit, a survey of alumni and will be developing a plan. Monica hopes to see a planning calendar that coordinates appeals, emails and events. She also hopes to see more strategic use of email by analyzing open rates and response rates.

This is a hot topic for this crowd. Apparently this is a common problem. It's certainly a problem in my shop.