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University of Southern California

USC is redefining the alumni and donor experience with Salesforce for Education.
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Large Goals Needed a Strong Foundation

The University of Southern California’s University Advancement team set its sights high when it came to fundraising. They created a goal to raise over six billion dollars and blew through that goal. By 2018, they ended up at over seven billion. They were just getting started.

A major part of University Advancement’s success was the development of a custom set of tools centered around flexibility and transparency. They chose Salesforce CRM, including Sales Cloud, Customer Community, and Marketing Cloud, as a starting point and then built a custom toolset around these to help them reach their goals. The toolset’s intuitiveness allowed them to tackle projects on their terms, and the flexibility let the University Advancement team adjust as needed when things changed. The toolset’s real-time data meant that instead of guessing on initiatives and donor behavior, the team was able to see the information they needed at all times.

  • 50%
    increase in alumni using Customer Community portal
  • 105M
    emails sent using Marketing Cloud
  • 33.5%
    email open rate

Multiple Data Streams and The Cost Of Upkeep

Before Salesforce, the USC University Advancement team did not have one data resource, it had several.

They quickly learned that keeping all the sources of information updated was neither scalable nor productive. With their small, agile team already working overtime, they needed a single solution that automated their workflows allowing them time back to work on other tasks.

After reviewing their options, University Advancement knew other solutions did not offer the features they needed to succeed. No other solution had the number of supported apps, cloud-based data access or mobile integrations that would help them reach their fundraising goals.

They ended up creating their own custom toolset with Salesforce to have the flexibility and transparency they needed. The process moved quickly and they were able to set up their new system and adopt it team-wide.

Salesforce has helped us build trust across departments. Other departments can see how it all fits together because we built collaboratively with them. It’s a sense of accomplishment.” Tracey Vranich, Interim Senior Vice President
University of Southern California

Optimizing Data and Effort To Bring Results

The customizability and ease of use of Salesforce was a big help for the University Advancement team early on. It allowed the organization to tailor the experience to fit what they needed out of a CRM. Flexibility with Sales Cloud UE, Customer Community, and Marketing Cloud, alongside UC Innovation (Exchange), allowed the team to create a system of tools that fit exactly what they were trying to do and to continue their goals without taking time out to find workarounds in a system that didn’t quite fit their needs.

Because they were able to customize so much at the onset, there wasn’t a major adjustment period when it came to using their new tools. The University Advancement team hit the ground running.

With the use of Marketing Cloud, they were able to sync a number of legacy systems used by different schools to one cohesive platform, easily accessible at any time. They’ve also leveraged Marketing Cloud to automatically invite students who have transitioned to alumni without any manual effort and run automated campaigns to reach out to non-active members.

To continuously engage with members of the University community, the team developed an online portal with Customer Community. It started as a place for alumni to connect with each other, register for upcoming events, and update their contact information directly and has grown to include the option for current parents to manage their communication preferences and will soon expand to provide additional online services for donors.

Furthermore, the team built a structure that allows their team to seamlessly track their efforts, but Tableau helps them garner insights into how they approach their fundraising efforts.

“Instead of looking at a list of actions, our development team is able to look at a dashboard that presents data in new ways,” Jacqueline DiMare, Director of CRM and User Experience said. “It gives actionable insights about new proposals or people to follow up with.”

Explore the Solutions:

Big Ideas and Bigger Results

Since switching to Salesforce, University Advancement has seen over $3.9 billion raised in fundraising, and the team has processed over 3.7 million unique transactions. The team can iterate on fundraising campaigns and use real-time data to determine what is working and what needs adjustment.

This fundraising effort has helped engage alumni, with 50% more of alumni logging into their Customer Community portal than under the organization’s legacy system. This one-stop portal has helped constituents maintain their connection to their school easier than ever.

“To have that sophisticated of a system for us, the volume is absolutely amazing,” said Tracey Vranich, Interim Senior VP of USC University Advancement. “We can change it and go through iterations, it’s flexible enough to do that.”

Furthermore, the team has sent 105 million emails across departments using Marketing Cloud. University Advancement tracks individual email campaigns to gauge effectiveness and develop new strategies to garner results. The effort has resulted in a higher-than-average open rate for emails at 33.5% opened.

Build lifelong alumni and donor relationships.

About University of Southern California

University of Southern California features over 49,000 students and nearly 5,000 full-time faculty. Ranked as one of the top 25 colleges by the Wall Street Journal, the school offers 22 academic schools and units, and boasts over 70,000 applicants every year.

The University Advancement and Alumni Relations team continues to set and clear high goals, with the use of innovative technology, when it comes to fundraising, outreach, and service to the Trojan Family.