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Innovations: Project Spotlight

By jservedio on December 1, 2017

Taking the NXT Step: How We Will Use Raiser’s Edge NXT to Support Advancement

Tim Borfitz and Bridget Gaudreau

The Good Old Days

When Colgate began implementation of the Banner Advancement System in 1994, home computers were continuing to gain in popularity with their portable floppy disks, Netscape Navigator launched as the first proprietary web browser, and faculty and scholars in higher education were the main users of the Internet. And, ahh, who can forget the sound of the hissing modem and the look of the Motorola bag phone.

While the Banner Advancement System has served us well, our current version has become dated and cumbersome. Institutional Advancement staff have managed to squeeze every drop of usefulness out of it, but the limitations and work-arounds severely limit Colgate’s ability to raise the necessary funds to support the growing needs of the institution.

Enter Raiser’s Edge NXT

As an industry leader for advancement solutions in higher education, Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge NXT provides a modern, web-based, mobile friendly solution for Colgate’s Institutional Advancement staff.

Delivered as Software as a service (Saas), Raiser’s Edge NXT provides a more efficient and functional back end and provides an intuitive, user-friendly front end that allows quick access to the information an account executive (AE) needs to do their job. While the AEs will often use their laptop while in the office, information will be easily updated and viewed on a phone when in an airport, office lobby, or on the road. Knowledge is power; for our colleagues on the road, having easy access to rich stores of mobile friendly information will help in their work raising funds for the university’s efforts.

With Raiser’s Edge NXT, Colgate will be prepared and poised for the public phase of our capital campaign. While exact benefits to Colgate are not yet measurable, according to Blackbaud’s survey results, 100% of customers achieved operational efficiency, 90% increased revenue, and 70% increased revenue from existing donors.

With fast-paced development and constant product improvement, Colgate benefits from the continual addition of new features without any effort from Colgate.

The Road Ahead

Over the next year, the advancement office and ITS will spend significant time configuring the system, testing, converting data, developing system interfaces, refining business processes, and learning how to use the new system. We’ll be off Banner Advancement (and several other smaller systems) and onto Raiser’s Edge NXT by next fall.

A major system change is not easy and requires hard work, patience, and adaptability. The willingness to accept change is key to success. Easy and instant access to donor information for non-technical staff in the office or on the road will increase adoption of the system, which will translate into better coordination and better results for Institutional Advancement.

Keeping in Touch, Smarter data, and Better  Decisions

Engagement tools like email marketing and targeted communications, coupled with more precise market segmentation, will improve the branding of our messages and yield results. Blackbaud offers several services that Colgate can use to improve the accuracy of our contact information and to identify potential donors.

Banner Advancement is cumbersome to use, so information gathered while on the road was often written down, emailed, or tucked away to update when back in the office. With Raiser’s Edge NXT, this important information can be updated on a mobile device and be immediately accessible to others in Advancement. Access to real-time information on a common platform that is mobile-friendly will eliminate the need for printed reports that are out of date shortly after being printed.

Raiser’s Edge NXT offers role-based and personalized views of information. Targeted reports, dashboards, metrics and analytics will be available to the back office, fundraisers, and management. Complementing the built-in reports and analytics will be the Colgate centralized data warehouse, which is being built to hold information from disparate systems and to supplement operational reports with cross-functional web reports, data visualizations, and dashboards. A single system of record with rich, well organized data allows analytics and data exploration that will cultivate support for the academic enterprise and just may carry us through the next twenty years and beyond.

If you would like more information about the NXT Step project, please contact project co-chairs Lindsey Hoham (Institutional Advancement) and Bridget Gaudreau (ITS).

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