Background

Concordia University, St. Paul is a comprehensive Christian liberal arts university, one of ten affiliated with The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. One of the University’s major goals is to educate students and prepare them for life beyond college within a Lutheran Heritage context. The majority of the University’s advancement team are alumni, including Ryan Marshall, Prospect Research Analyst. “Personally, I’m the recipient of scholarship dollars that made a significant difference to my education. It’s about paying that kindness forward.” For the advancement team, helping expand the University’s mission is a true passion.

The Challenge

“Compared to many other institutions, we have a small team and a small budget,” says Ryan. Historically, the University’s constituency consisted mainly of pastors, church workers, and alumni. But this donor base is aging (70+ years). Part of the advancement strategy depends on diversifying the donor base by finding people with wealth capacity who connect with the University’s mission. “It’s not so much about raising money, but meeting with people and finding their passion, and then connecting those passions with Concordia.” But to refresh the University’s donor base, Ryan and his team first needed to quickly identify new prospects with data they could trust. Enter iWave.

The Solution

“I was initially hesitant about using screening,” says Ryan, adding that he was concerned about where the data comes from and how to set up a new prospect research tool. “But I was hand-searching and verifying every record as I went—literally looking at thousands of people was really slow and involved a lot of guesswork. Now I can screen 200 alumni in a certain area across all kinds of datasets and pinpoint 50 who came back above a certain threshold—that takes half an hour. Then I can verify each of those people.”

How about setup? “I quickly became confident playing around with the features that are customizable: I set our affinity group to Higher Ed, which really influences capacity scores. It gives a much clearer picture than I would get otherwise.” Ryan estimates about 80,000 constituents in the University’s donor pool—“A lot of people for a small team!”— but batch screening allows the team to qualify large groups of people across new regions to create comprehensive portfolios. So, is iWave helping? Ryan: “It’s helped us exceed our fundraising goals every year.”

I can screen 200 alumni in a certain area across all kinds of datasets and pinpoint 50 who came back above a certain threshold—that takes half an hour.

RYAN MARSHALL Prospect Research Analyst

Concordia University

At a Glance:

Organization:
Concordia University,
St. Paul

Location:
St. Paul, MN

Industry:
Higher Education

Key Challenge:
Diversify an aging donor base by identifying potential donors from tens of thousands of prospects.

Key Benefit:
With iWave’s advanced data and customizable screening features, the University’s advancement team has been able to work more efficiently and exceed its fundraising goals year-over-year.