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Salesforce EDA for Higher Education


The Client

Gordon College is a multidenominational Christian college of the liberal arts and sciences in Wenham, Massachusetts. The college offers more than 90 areas of undergraduate study as well as graduate programs in education, music education, leadership and financial analysis. Gordon College remains committed to the power of a liberal arts education to hone qualities most sought by employers: the ability to think holistically, reason analytically, communicate persuasively and—even more importantly—to act morally.


Flexibility Within Managed Package

Gordon College began their Salesforce journey with the Advancement Connect product. While the solution met the College’s needs initially, it became clear that it would not grow with the Advancement team’s developing higher education requirements. Additionally, given the investments around the Education Data Architecture (EDA) in the Salesforce higher ed community, Gordon College decided to shift away from Advancement Connect and onto Education Cloud EDA functionality for their Advancement operations.

Gordon College Director of Advancement Services, Richard Houston shared, “Having seen work at the Higher Ed Conference and Northeast User Group meeting that Cloud for Good had done, we knew they would be able to help us transition off our complex managed package by advising our migration to EDA. Not only did they have the technical know-how to help us build the solution that is right for our organization, but also became our strategic EDA advisor – working with our team to find the best ways to utilize the platform in preparation for future projects and expansion.”

Outgrowing Their Advancement Package

As Gordon College developed, it became clear that for their programs to continue to grow, they needed a deeper understanding of their students, donors, alumni and friends of the college. Gordon wanted to be able to track the connection between these individuals and their associated accounts in Salesforce. They couldn’t tell which departments, companies and employers, or prior institutions (whether high school or transfer student universities) these individuals were associated with.

“We want to be able to act smart in our fundraising. If we know an alumnus is actively engaged with the College or an affinity group, we could better tailor our ask,” Houston shared.

Since Gordon College’s legacy solution was not built on, or complied with, EDA, it was unable to leverage standard features and functionality of Salesforce well. This system was not adequate for the needs of a growing Advancement Department.  This led to an immediate need for a solution that was supported by Salesforce and provided Gordon College with a system that was supported to grow with them.

No Pathway to Gift Processing in Salesforce

When it comes to reporting, Salesforce has some robust options for the information you house within your system. However, Gordon College was unable to integrate their gift processing within their existing system. They were stuck with the manual process of updating gift information into their Student Information System, Jenzabar, with no automated pathway of getting that information into Salesforce. To utilize Salesforce reporting, Gordon College would take additional time to manually import key data into their Salesforce system, but getting a full, clear outlook of their pipeline was tough.

In addition, the managed package they were using locked them into a Salesforce instance built outside of EDA. This meant that there was no way for them to take advantage of the continuous updates and investments is making to the EDA, specifically the gift processing building block in upcoming releases – ultimately helping them solve their gift processing and reporting challenges.

The Solutions

When Gordon College realized that their current solution was not the right fit, they began looking for partners that knew Advancement and could speak EDA fluently. After learning about Cloud for Good’s deep fundraising experience, and work with other clients on Advancement Connect they decided to move ahead with Cloud for Good as their implementation partner.

Houston shared, “Our Cloud for Good consultant had a thorough knowledge of EDA and was able to help us avoid some early configuration issues.”

A bigger vision for Gordon College was already being conceptualized. Their overarching goal became moving towards Salesforce implementation campus-wide. Since such a grand vision was unattainable with their existing setup, a platform transition made perfect sense. For the project, Cloud for Good provided strategic insights into the nuances of Salesforce’s EDA in addition to guiding Gordon’s staff through key considerations that would impact the College enterprise-wide.

A Trusted EDA Advisor

Gordon College was able to utilize Cloud for Good’s relationship with and experience in the higher education sector to set themselves up with the best practices when creating their Salesforce organization on the Education Cloud.

“With Cloud for Good’s extensive knowledge of Salesforce and the investments that are forthcoming, we are now able to confidently set ourselves up for the future,” Houston said.

Under this guidance, Gordon College set out in creating their Salesforce instance.

Maximizing Core Features

Moving from their complex managed package to EDA can be a time-consuming upgrade. Gordon College created a brand-new Salesforce instance with Cloud for Good acting as their EDA strategic advisor. Gordon College is now able to utilize many tools within Salesforce to strengthen their success.

They are now utilizing an administrative household model where individuals within the same household can now be grouped together, allowing their advancement team to track family giving history and trends while capturing the next generation. This also allows for better stewardship and expansion across departments as they spread across campus, noting for example if a donor’s son was a student of Gordon or if they themselves were an alumnus.

A user-friendly pipeline has also been created.  Before, they couldn’t use opportunity forecasting in the way they needed to because they were locked down with how they could allocate monies.

Gordon College has developed better reporting for gift processing and advancement pipeline while also being able to divide a single gift amongst multiple funds. In addition, the ability to track things internally such as board members and internal departments has become a much more user-friendly manner.

Lightning Experience Ready

Using their managed package, Gordon was stuck in the Salesforce Classic experience. When they made the switch to EDA, they were able to implement their organization using the Lightning Experience (LEX). This switch allows for a much more effective interface using Lightning Flow to execute customize processes without changing screens.

“Under Cloud for Good’s advisement, Gordon College is now on the LEX. We are excited to now benefit from the investments that continues to make into EDA,” said Houston.


More Transparency into Fundraising Efforts

Before EDA, Gordon College was not able to track alumni activity and donor data effectively. Now with a one-click view of their revenue pipeline, the Advancement team is getting more out of the user-friendly platform with customized reports, insight into touchpoints with their donors, forecasting, and better allocation of funds. They now have a more cohesive environment to build and expand on relationships with donors and prospects while also being able to strategize deeper, setting them up for success.

Create Actionable Reports

The reports Gordon College is now able to pull are not something they had even thought possible due to the virtue of the way the managed package is structured.

Just because you bring data into your software doesn’t mean you get to leverage all the tools Salesforce has to offer. Yet now, with what they have created in EDA, they are.


“With their industry expertise, Cloud for Good is always thinking ahead and preparing us not only for our own growth within the platform but also set us up to best optimize all new features and tools released within Education Cloud,” said Houston, Gordon College Director of Advancement Services.

Everything Cloud for Good has done with Gordon College is queuing them up for a campus-wide solution. They are now set up to create unique user profiles with limited platform access, enhance database better security and prepare them for when EDA gift processing is released.

Gordon College is now prepared to track and monitor grants and major gift qualification stages such as qualifying, identifying and cultivating activities, ultimately allowing them to see the full gift journey and providing tools to forecast funds. This also set them up to fully integrate their Jenzabar gift processing system into Salesforce when EDA gift processing is released.

Houston and his team shared that, “Cloud for Good was very knowledgeable, efficient, patient and fun to work with. They were just what we needed for our EDA project. We look forward to working with them on future projects.”