By Kristin Kiester

The need for creative solutions and progressive thinking within the world of higher education has never been greater.  While the far-reaching effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to interfere with our educational normality, Salesforce.org has taken matters into their own hands with the release of several timely new features powered by the Education Cloud.  In blazing trails headed towards institutional empowerment, a clearly-defined set of CRM solutions has arrived to inspire digital engagement for recruitment and admissions, add connectivity and intuitiveness to the student experience, and improve the fundraising and engagement for academic advancement.  Now, more than ever, institutions far and wide are seeking to bridge divides, revitalize alumni relationships, and ensure their programs are adaptable to the new realities we all face.  Here are a few highlights from what is sure to be a landmark announcement for the state of educational innovation.

Recruiting & Admissions

Empowering student applicants with streamlined support is one of the most pertinent priorities of these new features.  Admissions teams are now granted a deeper, 360-degree view of applicant data and documents, allowing for more efficient and effective decision making.  This new solution is looking to unify previously disparate point solutions and third-party managed packages to provide users with out-of-the-box functionality.  Set up like a console to help visualize the various points of data inherent to your system, this new application review process now provides guide-like navigation, all within a concise, central location.

As a user, you’re now able to quickly view all applications in each stage through a Kanban format, as well as see all associated data within an application, such as recommendation letters, test scores, reviewer comments, and more.  You can even add your comments within an application and seamlessly move on to other applications.  Looking even further down the line, a pilot program for an online application portal is underway, promising greater connectivity and harmonious communication for your institution’s online application process in the near future.

Advising & Student Success

As part of Salesforce Advisor Link, support and advisement of students have taken a huge step forward through Student Self Check-in.  Once this moment has passed and students can safely return to campuses around the country, the advising experience will greatly benefit from the new digital waiting rooms, self-register kiosks, and verifiable check-in queues built on existing Service Cloud features.

The pivot from traditional in-person services will be experienced for quite some time, so it’s imperative for our institutions to digitally empower both students and scholastic staff to conduct their business online whenever possible.  Centralizing advising provides a “One-Stop” mentality through a consolidated digital experience, saving students from running around from building to building in search of answers that could easily be discovered independently through these new tools.

Advancement

The future of advancement will be written within the Education Data Architecture (EDA).  With the latest features, institutions now have the ability to improve their fundraising and engagement for advancement and alumni like never before.  New capabilities for payment and accounting now streamline the donation process across all platforms inherent to the giving process, and the latest fundraising suite, Elevate, coming this summer, offers enhanced online giving through a personalized and centralized hub.

Higher education institutions can now launch their own personally-branded fundraising campaigns through Giving Pages, unifying alumni, and garnering targeted support to help combat the negative effects of COVID-19.  These Giving Pages come equipped with its own set of Payment Services that enable advancement teams to accept web donations that are compatible with any preexisting donation forms you might already be utilizing.  Additionally, the Gift Entry Manager module delivers the tools necessary to process and track those donations.

Perhaps most impactful on the advancement mission will be the new Engagement Hub for Education.  This branded portal effectively merges the various facets of giving, payment processing, volunteer opportunities, and first-hand accounts from alumni into a personalized, integrated hub built to engage the donor experience.  This enhanced digital connection instills a greater sense of institutional pride and encourages engagement between peers and graduating classes, building a greater digital support group for volunteer opportunities and continued giving in the process.  This new feature represents the core values inherent to the mindset that brought forth these upgrades: greater compassion and relationship cultivation through a safe, digital connection.

Finally, the new Accounting Subledger feature consciously connects your fundraising with your finance system.  What this allows for is a more responsive accounting system of fundraising data that consolidates and ensures consistent revenue, payment, and allocation structure across all academic activities.  The subledger includes reliable and transparent data flow that ensures consistency across pledges, payments, fundraising, and finance systems.  Flexible support for key stakeholders is also made available, while a consistent story of data establishes a single source of truth across operations and systems.  Debits and credits can now also be created directly within Salesforce, making it easier to represent fundraising transactions within accounting formats and to post on the General Ledger.

Students, families, institution staff, and faculties will find their current and future situations greatly enhanced by the support these new features will provide.  Salesforce.org has proven yet again that when a need arises, their cloud-based solutions have the progressive technology necessary to meet those needs and overcome challenges.  The preservation of quality education for all represents a lifelong priority for so many within the higher education sector.  That dedication to preservation is all the more important in this current climate.  These innovations will pave the way for a more thoughtfully connected education community through technology, allowing us to band together, even in times of social distance.

For an even more in-depth look into the innovations coming from Salesforce.org, don’t forget to register for the virtual Higher Ed Summit taking place on June 9, 2020.  Discover how institutions nationwide are using creative digital solutions to transform and innovate within this altered landscape.  To learn how you can make the most of the virtual summit experience, and how best to implement these new technologies, make sure to sign up for Cloud for Good’s targeted webinars for Recruiting & Admissions | Student Success, Advancement & Alumni Engagement, and Executive Education. They will provide you with insight into many of the new solutions and topics covered during the summit.

Written by Kristin Kiester and Blake Becker

Kristin Kiester

Kristin Kiester