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Using Data to Power a $300M Campaign at University of San Francisco

By Guest Author April 4, 2022

For several years, Tableau has served as the primary data analytics and visualization platform for the University of San Francisco (USF), a private university located on a beautiful 55-acre campus in the heart of San Francisco. With Tableau, the USF advancement team produces lists, dashboards, KPIs, automated reports, and predictive analytics. The tool also serves as a bridge to bring data together across platforms.

In 2021, USF went live with Affinaquest’s Advancement RM, built on Salesforce’s robust data infrastructure that’s designed by and for higher education advancement professionals. This transition from a legacy system to a CRM allowed USF to begin using Tableau CRM directly within their central alumni and donor database, significantly increasing the accessibility of the tool and its insights.

“People with no coding experience can create and run simple reports [in Advancement RM] using its built-in reporting tool,” wrote Francesca MacCormack, senior director for donor services and stewardship at USF. “This not only increases our data transparency, but also helps our development division make more timely, data-driven decisions.”

This increased data accessibility has been transformative for the university, especially as the advancement team continues work on a $300M campaign, which launched in 2016. The campaign itself was pivotal in expanding the university’s use of data, helping them to leverage data in a new way. But the launch of Advancement RM and the use of Tableau within the system has allowed the USF advancement team to create a “single source of truth” for development, with both key data and actionable insights found in one central location.

“Our team uses Advancement RM to quickly access giving data and giving history, which allows for timely donor communications as well as on-demand information for prospecting, stewardship, engagement, and donor conversations,” Francesca shared.

In addition, the team has created and elevated new and existing dashboards and visualizations, such as the Campaign Production Report and the Daily Wildly Important Goals (WIG) report.

Campaign Production Report

The Campaign Production Report is a comprehensive dashboard for development staff that summarizes information related to the current campaign, presenting it in a clear, easy-to-understand format.

The dashboard includes key details like the cumulative campaign total; campaign totals by priority, designation, and fiscal year; and the total commitments received, which breaks gifts into pledges and outright gifts. This graphic has allowed USF to “properly track, assess, and evaluate the goals, gains, and challenges of the campaign,” according to Owen Xie, a senior data analyst.

The University of San Francisco’s Campaign report shows real-time totals related to their “Changing the World from Here” campaign, including total campaign goals and funding by priority and designation.

Daily WIG Report

WIG stands for “wildly important goals,” which focus on such critical data as a cumulative campaign total, donor counts, and retention rate.

The Daily WIG Report from USF allows fundraisers to always know exactly where they stand in meeting their goals for the year, with forecasted projections (generated at the beginning of the year) and current revenue received.

USF’s Owen Xie explained that the Daily WIG Report “overlays dynamic performance data with static predictions based on historical data to provide a live update” of progress toward division goals. Color gradients indicate where the fundraising team is doing well, and where action is needed to improve outcomes. Growth lines forecast fundraising income, indicating whether USF is on track to meet its goals, and other data points indicate donor counts and retention rates for the year, including both general and alumni retention.

The Power of Analytics in a Data-Empowered Culture

Together, the reports described above have given the USF fundraising team a real-time snapshot of their success and progress. The team can actively monitor and adjust as necessary to achieve their annual and campaign goals.

Even more, the integration of Tableau CRM into Advancement RM has centralized the insights that drive success at the University of San Francisco. 

“It has allowed us to speak from one playbook.”


About the Author


Dr. Caitlin Scarano, Senior Marketing Manager for Advancement at AffinaquestDr. Caitlin Scarano
Senior Marketing Manager for Advancement at Affinaquest

Dr. Caitlin Scarano (she/they) is the senior marketing manager for advancement at Affinaquest. Based in Bellingham, Washington, they hold a PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an MA in College Student Personnel from Bowling Green State University.