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Maximizing Your Advancement Investment with Salesforce

Maximizing your advancement investment with Salesforce.

As a whole, the tool sets being utilized to fuel modern-day advancement have become long in the tooth. For a number of years, institutions have held off on making technology decisions as they waited to see what innovations companies like Ellucian or Blackbaud unveiled.   

Unfortunately, our market has been offered only disappointing rehashes of previous products from these traditional vendors that are unable to truly meet the needs of higher education institutions and address the quickly changing expectations of donors.  As a result, significant demand has been generated for modern advancement solutions in the space that are not only reliable but forward-thinking as well.   

Enter Salesforce, which brings an incredibly performant and secure platform and our ecosystem of partners who are forever changing the landscape of advancement technology for the better.  Salesforce represents a shift in the momentum for so many institutions looking to modernize and build for the future of advancement success.  I have nearly 20 years of experience in the advancement space, and I have seen firsthand what some of Salesforce’s competitors have to offer.  Believe me when I say there is no better time than now to leverage Salesforce technology to future-proof your investment and answer the expectations of your constituents. 

Better Understanding Advancement 

To build the right set of advancement solutions, one must first understand the nature of advancement as it relates to fundraising in other sectors and spaces.  Advancement differs in the complexity of respective approaches with those who give, and is often played as a team sport, so to speak.  Institutional leadership, foundation executives, attorneys, accountants, board members, you name it, all help form the team that dictates the direction of an institution’s advancement efforts.  The structure of these teams is inherently more complex than other types of philanthropic giving in large part to the number of people involved in the decision-making. 

Tender types and gift agreements are often quite complex in higher education advancement as well.  This, too, is due in large part to the number of interests and donor preferences at play in each giving decision.  Estate planning considerations, fund designations, third-party payments, matching gifts, and more result in a need for sophisticated systems capable of accommodating the various forms of support in our field. 

Existing Advancement Challenges 

Many of the current advancement challenges being experienced by institutions on non-Salesforce solutions stem from a lack of mobile capability.  This is to say, the lack of an ability to be fully powered on mobile devices and have the in-office, desktop power of the advancement experience replicated one-to-one on the mobile platform. 

This challenge, which has existed for several years now, was laid bare and exacerbated greatly by the pandemic and still follows institutions that are resistant to change.  The lack of mobile capability makes it more difficult to democratize data across an institution and puts your development officers at a significant disadvantage.  One of the great keys to advancement success, or the success of any higher education department, is to have an open flow of information and central communication.   

Through Salesforce, access can be given, appropriate permissions can be assigned, and security can be trusted to share leverageable data freely to maximize impact.  When the appropriate people can interrogate real-time data, they are better able to make informed decisions that impact not only their portfolio but their department and the institution at large. 

People need access to tools that allow them to perform their jobs intuitively without barriers to success.  There is already a significant amount of staffing movement in the current employee force landscape as a direct result of companies not providing environments conducive to staff success, so it’s critical to empower your teams with tools that reduce the friction to their desired outcomes. 

Modern-day advancement is not immune to this fact, and the lessons we can glean here are relevant to both staff utilizing internal technology and the end-user interacting on their phones or online with the institution.  We are all on smartphones and computers running high-powered, user-friendly systems and interfaces geared toward our experience.  There is simply no room for archaic solutions, clunky designs, or unintuitive technology. 

How Salesforce Empowers Advancement 

Institutions are turning to Salesforce in droves to solve these issues and more by bringing advancement technology solutions into the modern era.  Every measure of success is predicated on the experiences of donors, and institutions are becoming increasingly aware of Salesforce’s impact.  Through tools like Experience Cloud, Commerce Cloud, and Marketing Cloud, institutions are building engaging donor journeys that connect constituents with institutions and build lasting quality relationships.   

Whether through opening emails, visiting websites, giving gifts, or attending events, the result of these interactions creates an amalgamation of fully automated tools and services that cultivate connection from the consumer and quality advancement for the institution. 

To be frank, many of Salesforce’s competitors have been caught on their heels by the rapid evolution we’ve introduced in the advancement space.  The amount of research and development investment by Salesforce is astronomical; no competitor can come close to the amount of time, effort, and resources poured into higher education advancement.  That’s because innovation is a core value at Salesforce, and the company is always challenging the status quo. 

Transparency is another key foundational value of Salesforce.  We earn the trust of higher education customers through transparency of data, security, compliance, privacy, and performance delivered on the industry’s most trusted infrastructure.  Take a visit to at any hour of the day and you’ll receive service availability and performance status reports on all Salesforce products as well as security updates and relevant educational resources.  Everything is in plain view, which keeps customers informed and transparency at the forefront. 

A Future Built on Salesforce 

Customers of Salesforce also have so many options to obtain information on advancement practices and further their knowledge or competency with the solution.  From the Trailblazer community and user groups to the fact that you can Google nearly any scenario or problem and receive a multitude of quality responses, there is always a broader ecosystem of knowledge ready to be leveraged.   

One of the biggest differentiators of Salesforce, when compared to its competitors, is the power of choice.  Just like modern-day smartphones, Salesforce has access to a large repository of apps through the AppExchange to plug and play the right solutions for the right need and time. 

Advancement is always moving forward, and I foresee great progress in the advancement space as mobile giving becomes more sophisticated and emerging technologies, such as Web3 and cryptocurrency, are more broadly utilized.  Salesforce is built to scale alongside this progress.  On the platform, institutions can work to cultivate lasting relationships between the student and the school that greatly affect present and future advancement.   

Are you ready to advance your advancement?  

Learn More About Zan Turvey
Zan Turvey headshot.

Zan Turvey is a member of the Salesforce higher education industry advisor team with a specialization in advancement.  Zan’s nearly 20-year tenure in the advancement space is highlighted by successful stints in go-to-market roles at leading software providers where he helped both domestic and international universities embark on their digital transformation journeys.