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"Salesforce helps us quickly engage our donors and meet the urgent needs of our community members. It’s amazing to see the weight that Salesforce lifts off our team." - Chris Zupfer, Vice President of Advancement, Hill-Murray School

Hill-Murray Drives Innovation Schoolwide with Salesforce

Hill-Murray School – a co-educational, Catholic Benedictine college preparatory school in St. Paul, Minnesota – serves over 900 students in grades 6-12. Its mission is to foster growth and celebrate the talents of each individual student to prepare them to be ethical servant leaders.

“At Hill-Murray, we provide personalized education that allows students to grow and live their values to make significant differences in the world,” said Chris Zupfer, Vice President of Advancement.

It is this dedication to their families and students that inspires all Hill-Murray staff members to continuously look for innovation.

Enabling Growth with a Flexible Platform

When a member of the IT team suggested replacing Hill-Murray’s existing CRM with Salesforce, the development team took a hard look.

“We saw the Salesforce platform as a great opportunity for us to gain a unified view of our constituents. With key differentiators being its flexibility and scalability, we knew Salesforce would be the most effective platform because it could grow with us over time,” said Zupfer.

The ability to customize Salesforce and expand functionality using apps found in the AppExchange allows Hill-Murray to streamline data, grow events, and tailor outreach without adding additional staff. Reports that used to be created manually by updating spreadsheets are now delivered directly to school leaders via easy-to-read, personalized dashboards.

Creating a Consistent Constituent Experience

Hill-Murray immediately recognized that Salesforce could enhance its ability to cultivate relationships with donors and families. “We want to provide a consistent constituent experience to fit with our mission,” added Zupfer.

In 2018, the development team expanded Salesforce to bring communications onboard with the addition of Pardot. They quickly saw that outreach to constituents – families, alumni, donors, and more – was more effective and efficient. Pardot allowed the development team to quickly create professional emails with school information, event invitations, and fundraising campaigns. The school’s relationship with its constituents immediately became more personalized.

“Our goal is to communicate with donors when, how, and where they want to receive information based on their actions,” said Zupfer.

The new tools proved invaluable during Hill-Murray’s recent Known, Loved and Respected Campaign – a $20 million campaign created to start a new student endowment and build both capital and annual funds. With donor data continually updated in one central location – keeping staff well informed – the campaign goal was eventually adjusted to $35 million, making it seven times larger than any other campaign in the school’s history.

Doing More with Less

The Hill-Murray team accomplished key goals with limited resources with Salesforce in place, which proved to be even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are operating very lean during the pandemic and relying on our technology to meet our goals. Salesforce helps us quickly engage our donors and meet the urgent needs of our community members. It’s amazing to see the weight that Salesforce lifts off our team,” said Zupfer.

Hill-Murray’s thoughtful and strategic approach towards implementing Salesforce enabled the school to quickly pivot when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020. The response to supporting its community was nothing short of extraordinary.

“Families in our community were impacted financially. They needed money to buy groceries, gas and other necessities just to get by day-to-day. We had to do something to help,” added Zupfer.

The school immediately set up a COVID-19 relief fund, pivoting its energy to engage donors who could help not just current families, but alumni as well. Using Pardot and Formstack, the team created a fundraising campaign, grant request process, donation page, and communications plan to connect with donors and families – all within 24 hours.

The results speak for themselves – Hill-Murray raised over $200,000 in just weeks and distributed the funds to meet community members’ immediate needs, including internet connectivity, groceries, tuition, and more.

“A week into the crisis, we were quickly communicating with donors and families in need,” said Zupfer. “This would not have been possible without Pardot.”

Expanding the Platform to Save Time

More recently, Hill-Murray implemented Elevate,’s fundraising suite, to boost donations on its annual Give Day. The team used Elevate to create customized, mobile-friendly forms that accept both single and recurring donations. Elevate provides native integration directly with Hill-Murray’s Salesforce instance to give the team information about where donors come from, donor trends, campaign effectiveness, and overall relationship management.

When the team combined Elevate with targeted messaging using segmentation in Pardot, the results were impressive – Hill-Murray raised over $175,000 to support its community. Additionally, the online donation amount increased by 40%, online donors increased by 7%, and staff saved eight hours of time (one full work day). The team continues to use Elevate for one-off fundraising campaigns they need to launch quickly.

Hill-Murray also expanded the platform to include Click & Pledge, from the AppExchange, to save time with events. Every year, the school hosts 15-20 alumni reunions, dances, an alumni golf tournament, and more. Event registration used to be done manually and payment collection was difficult. Click & Pledge handles event RSVPs, payments, and integrates directly with Salesforce to eliminate data entry errors, facilitate communication, and provide real-time reporting. These events now take significantly less time for Hill-Murray to coordinate and manage, and the data captured is more consistent.

Scaling for Future Growth

Hill-Murray is looking forward to expanding Salesforce to other departments, empowering more staff and administrators to support students, families, and alumni.

The Hill-Murray team sees a bright future ahead. “With Salesforce, we are positioned to be more effective and efficient in the long run, and build sustainable programming that best supports our students,” added Zupfer.

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