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Purdue for Life Foundation

Purdue for Life Foundation uses Salesforce to build better alumni relationships.
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Executive Summary

To strengthen relationships with its more than one million alumni, fans, and friends Purdue University merged its development office and alumni association to create a new organization strategically focused on boosting engagement and increasing advancement opportunities. The Purdue for Life Foundation (PFLF) helps streamline communications, manage resources and operations more efficiently, and create new opportunities for engagement. Critical to PFLF’s success was having the right technology and tools in place to support its mission, including a new CRM.

  • 400+
    Salesforce users within Purdue for Life Foundation
  • 20+
    Separate groups that were consolidated to manage the same process

Inspiring Alumni to Give Back

Even with a passionate alumni base like Purdue’s, PFLF faced a challenge to create and maintain meaningful connections that engaged alumni and inspired them to get involved and be regular donors.

“We want people to connect with the university and we want to manage that relationship on an ongoing basis so we can help them in the future. We also want to thank them and give them a reason to give back,” said Michelle Bates, Assistant Vice President for IT, CRM and Data Analytics at the Purdue for Life Foundation.

Purdue’s alumni hold the institution to high standards when it comes to innovation and technology. As the PFLF team searched for a new CRM, it was critical that they found a solution that could meet their constituents’ expectations for personalized engagement across social, web, email, and mobile channels.

PFLF required a single platform that could help unify and consolidate data from across the organization to increase visibility and drive new efficiencies operationally and administratively. The platform needed to be able to help strategically solve marketing and communications problems and it needed to be easy to use, as well as flexible and scalable to support adoption across campus beyond advancement functionality.

We wanted to be able to solve problems across the university on a common platform and when it came down to it, the obvious solution was Salesforce.” Michelle Bates, Assistant Vice President for IT, CRM and Data Analytics
Purdue for Life Foundation

A Single Solution for Campus-Wide Connectivity

UC Innovations offered PFLF a managed Salesforce package that met its advancement needs as well as its broader campus-wide connectivity goals.

“We wanted to be able to solve problems across the university on a common platform and when it came down to it the obvious solution was Salesforce,” said Bates.

The focal point of the implementation was to migrate and unify all of PFLF’s biographic and demographic information and its system for gift processing and event management. PFLF also used Salesforce to build a unique constituent-facing portal where donors can see gifts, access the alumni directory, and register for events.

There are more than 400 users within PFLF and Salesforce is used daily by staff in all departments, from gift processing and prospecting to planned giving and special events.

PFLF implemented Marketing Cloud to manage its email campaigns and enhance its communications efforts. The team can now track metrics such as clickthrough rates and has shared access to constituent profiles, constituent logging, contacts, and reporting.

PFLF is also using Einstein and Tableau CRM to fulfill their reporting and dashboard needs.

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Breaking Down Silos to Drive Better Engagement

From a disparate collection of systems, data and processes, Salesforce has helped PFLF transform its operations into a single, unified platform. With real-time visibility into its constituents, PFLF can now deliver on its mission more effectively.

“Before our project we had different systems requiring different interfaces without real-time information and it was difficult to manage and processes would fail,” said Bates. “We don’t have that today, we’re all on one platform and the way Salesforce is architected is definitely critical in enabling what we’re trying to do.”

PFLF has been able to streamline and automate processes to make day-to-day administrative operations significantly more efficient for its users who have been able to quickly adopt the new platform. Forms and processes that previously had to route individually through different departments can all now be viewed and actioned on directly in Salesforce using cases. The platform is easy to use and for staff, such as fundraisers, who often work remotely, features like mobile capabilities have saved time and helped them focus their efforts on high-value tasks.

With Salesforce and Marketing Cloud, PFLF now has a much more unified, strategic, and efficient approach to marketing and communications. The team now sends highly targeted emails with highly relevant content instead of four or more unrelated pieces of communication.

Marketing Cloud helped bring together development teams from numerous business units across the university who were all individually requesting lists, wanting data, and sending messages. PFLF consolidated over 20 separate groups and now manages the same processes with a small centralized team, making it not just more efficient but also more impactful for constituents.

“We now have a small team that’s focused on doing it all and that’s been very successful for us,” said Bates. “It’s a much cleaner process, it’s much better managed, and it’s much more cohesive for our constituents.” With the ability to track interactions, event attendance, and engagement scores, PFLF has a much clearer picture of its alumni and their needs and has been able to enhance the alumni experience and increase engagement.

“With Salesforce, we really have that 360-degree view of our constituents, all in one platform, that we can leverage to really know them and engage with them in a more personalized way,” said Bates.

Focusing on Growth and Improvement

As Salesforce is rolled out more broadly across Purdue, the university aims to break down significant barriers and integrate a large amount of siloed data, to enable the organization to work together more collectively.

“I think the real power is in having so many solutions all on one platform where we can get rid of these silos and spreadsheets and share all this data and be acting like one organization, one university,” said Bates.

Using Tableau, PFLF has been able to build self-service dashboards, giving end-users access to all kinds of insights regarding constituents, donors, endowments, scholarships and more. Users now have the ability to pull reports without the help of the reporting team, making them more effective at their jobs and saving time for PFLF’s technical team.

Intently focused on growth and improvement, PFLF is using Salesforce to constantly build new features and solve problems across the foundation to innovate and drive its mission forward.

“We’re enjoying the ability to enhance, build, grow and solve problems,” said Bates. “We didn’t want just a system, we wanted a platform that we could build with and that’s what we’re able to do with Salesforce.”

Learn more about Marketing Cloud.

More about Purdue for Life Foundation

The Purdue for Life foundation (PFLF) deepens alumni ties and coordinates alumni-related activities by working with alumni and friends to garner support for the University. By combining engagement and fundraising into one organization, PFLF is designed to align fundraising and stewardship activities across campus.