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How Cloud for Good is Innovating the Indiana University Advancement Experience with Salesforce

With Salesforce and Cloud for Good, Indiana University Advancement is:

Salesforce Advancement

Enabling donors and alumni to complete giving transactions in under 30 seconds.

Advancement on Salesforce

Removing barriers to giving by providing multiple payment and single sign-on options.

Higher Ed Fundraising

Sharing the impact of donations through rich media directly on giving pages.

Indiana University Advancement (IUA) has partnered with Cloud for Good to completely overhaul its online giving experience utilizing Salesforce technology.

IUA is comprised of two unique entities, the Indiana University Foundation (IUF) and the Indiana University Alumni Association (IUAA), working together towards common goals. IUF maximizes private support for Indiana University (IU) by fostering lifelong relationships with key stakeholders and providing advancement leadership and fundraising services for campuses, a goal made easier with the help of Salesforce’s Commerce and Marketing Clouds.  IUAA works to activate and support the global IU alumni network by encouraging alumni to grow a lifelong connection with the university and inspiring ongoing generosity and engagement.

Setting the Vision

“Prior to launching our new site, our online giving experience was not great.  Our most recent campaign, ‘For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign,’ was just wrapping up, and we were getting a lot of feedback on the experience.  Our giving site was functional but wasn’t great.  Those that gave to the campaign wouldn’t have put up with the online experience at any other retailer.  You had to really love IU in order to give,” said Jordan Sites, the Senior Director of Advancement supporting both IUF and IUAA.

Users reported the giving experience on IUF’s website was outdated, lengthy, and lacked user-friendly functionality.  It simply wasn’t a modern shopping experience.  Only base-level online giving features were provided, and there were no rich media, testimonials, or impact statements that helped visualize how donations would make a difference for IU.

With this feedback in mind, the team at IUA set out to develop a new, user-friendly giving and engagement solution. This project was guided by one fundamental question: “How might we make it easy for donors to discover what they want to support and, once known, complete their gift transaction within 30 seconds?”

Giving Platform Built on Salesforce

The answer to that question?  The robust platform of Salesforce.  Alongside Cloud for Good, IUA began a project harnessing the power of Salesforce Commerce Cloud and Salesforce Marketing Cloud to digitally transform the online giving experience.  This cloud combination served as the catalyst to provide IUA with a best-of-breed, cloud-based commerce platform and the marketing tools needed to improve the stakeholder experience and deliver more personalized messaging and engagement.

“Salesforce has brought on a night and day shift in mindset from our team,” said Sites.  “Our conversations now focus on things like AB testing, gleaning analytics based off those tests, and creating journeys that help us accomplish things we couldn’t even dream of before.”

Making it Easy for Donors + Alumni to Give

One of the most shining examples of IUA’s innovation through Salesforce is its page, which acts as the foundation for all online giving at the institution.  Here’s what this page looked like prior to Salesforce:

Indiana University Advancement success story screenshot

While the previous website worked just fine, it wasn’t engaging IU’s stakeholders and there wasn’t much about it that made donors and alumni want to keep coming back.  This barebones interface didn’t adequately explain what exactly it was that donors were contributing towards.

Now, through Salesforce, this is what online users see as soon as they sign in to the new

Indiana University Advancement new page screenshot

You can see that the new page is personalized, addressing users by name.  Then, as soon as the user starts typing in the search bar, the system will pull up suggestions of funds, categories, and other popular searches based on keywords and the letters being actively typed.

While this feature sounds like a given nowadays, it is this modern, and predictive consumer experience that IUA was lacking before Salesforce.  Once users successfully find the fund or giving category they’re searching for, the giving pages appear big and bold and provide the functionality to give to more than one cause in a single cart.

Indiana University Advancement new functionality

But it’s not just the ease of use that makes this new solution so innovative.  As the user scrolls down, they are provided additional information helping to express how their donated funds will make a real impact at the university.  Embedded videos, impact stories, and testimonials provided by actual IU stakeholders explain how those funds will make a positive impact on their student journeys and aspirations.

“Hearing a student describe to you how a donation will impact them is compelling, especially if you’re already scrolling through and looking for a way to give back to the university that has meant so much to your own life,” said Sites.

Another component of IUA’s and Cloud for Good revolutionary project is the ease with which giving pages can be shared through each page’s unique hyperlink.  While this, too, sounds elementary, the pre-Salesforce didn’t have such functionality; users would have to click through campuses, schools, and courses of study just to find the page they were looking for.  “It was an arduous, annoying process,” said Sites.  “Today, these pages are easy to share, which makes it easy to give.”

Measuring Impact

In the first couple of months following implementation, IUA has seen organic growth in total gift-giving exceeding prior years with minimal campaigning.  The institution has also added features like PayPal™ as a payment option for online giving, something that the team had been wanting for years but was unable to incorporate into the previous platform.

In that same time frame, Sites went on to say that PayPal™ alone has been utilized nearly a hundred times for online gifts.  “Clearly, these improvements are working, and once we start pumping the content and campaigning…the sky’s the limit.”

Cloud for Good and IUA have successfully created a modern, “Amazon-like” experience its stakeholders have come to expect.  A unique combination of Marketing and Commerce Clouds has provided a streamlined giving process, a single sign-on for users, and strengthened communication.  Donors and alumni can now give in less than 30 seconds, and marketing journeys have increased engagement across the board.

“I continue to be surprised at how well the solution has been received,” said Sites.  “We’ve had around 4,000 new accounts created in a short amount of time.  People are loving the intuitive design and the gifts are coming in with minimal problems.”

The success of IUA’s Salesforce project has been so great that Sites even presented with Cloud for Good at Dreamforce 2022 on how the IU donor and alumni experience has been forever transformed through Salesforce.

“I’m not hesitant to say that Cloud for Good has been the best partner I’ve ever worked with,” said Sites in closing.  “We simply couldn’t have done it without Cloud for Good.”

Indiana University Advancement Jordan Sites Sarah Lamberston Dreamforce

Written by Blake Becker

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