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Innovating for Advancement Success in the New Economy

Shrinking budgets and government funding, as well as increasingly demanding donors requesting higher levels of information and service, has made fundraising more challenging than ever. These advancement challenges were greatly compounded for Westmont College, a Christian liberal arts college in Santa Barbara, by two events with devastating financial impact. In late 1998, a massive wildfire damaged or destroyed 22 college buildings and burned vegetation across one-third of campus, causing over $30 million in damage. This was followed shortly thereafter by the withdrawal of a $75 million pledge due to the economic downturn. As a result, Westmont faced the dire need to step up its fundraising efforts like never before.

However, Westmont’s advancement team lacked a consistent scalable donor management process, relying on various disparate manual processes and tools to manage fundraising efforts. In spite of heroic efforts, Westmont’s IT team was mired in 24×7 support of legacy applications, and unable to keep up with evolving advancement needs and the sudden financial crisis.

Westmont College made the decision to implement Salesforce in 2009 to standardize and streamline its advancement processes. By leveraging a cloud computing solution like Salesforce, Westmont freed up its IT staff from keeping the lights on for legacy applications to focus on advancement innovation. They were able to implement the donor management solution and launch a new fundraising campaign within 95 days of purchasing Salesforce.

Today, Salesforce helps gift officers manage their donor portfolio and proposal lifecycle more effectively. Gift officers use an online form in Salesforce to capture donor notes in real-time, replacing spreadsheets and handwritten notes. Salesforce reports and dashboards provide real-time visibility into fundraising progress and gift officer productivity metrics. Gift officers use Salesforce across various form factors, including laptops, iPad tablets and mobile phones. In addition, Westmont integrated Salesforce with their SIS system to improve data visibility and streamline end-to-end processes.

Overall, fundraising is up by 250% in the past three years since Salesforce was rolled out. The initial fundraising campaign raised over $83 million, the largest amount ever raised in the history of the school. In addition, Westmont College recently launched a new fundraising campaign that was so far raised over $53 million in just over two years.

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