Boston University

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Higher Education Institutions
North America

Boston University trusts Blackbaud CRM to power its first comprehensive fundraising campaign.

Launching its first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign, Boston University needed a modern fundraising and relationship management solution that provided a consistent, reliable foundation for its data needs and the flexibility to support its growing advancement initiatives.

Founded in 1839, Boston University is a leading, international private research institution with over 35,000 students from more than 130 countries, over 10,000 faculty and staff, 17 schools and colleges, and more than 300 programs of study. Its three campuses comprise a notable range of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs built on a strong foundation of the liberal arts and sciences.

In 2012, Boston University (BU) launched its fundraising campaign, The Campaign for Boston University, with a $1 billion goal for financial aid, faculty support, expanded research, and facility improvements. The final tally, announced at the campaign’s end on September 21, 2019, was $1.85 billion.

Understanding the importance of having modern technology to support this major initiative, BU knew the legacy infrastructure powering its development efforts needed a major upgrade. The team chose Blackbaud CRM, and within months of being live, it was clear they had made the right investment. The solution delivered a consistent, reliable foundation for their data needs and provided the flexibility to support their growing advancement initiatives.

“The Campaign for Boston University was the primary driver for selecting Blackbaud CRM,” Witkowski said. “By having an accurate view of constituents’ records, our fundraisers were able to make data-driven segmentation decisions and confidently solicit support from donors most likely to give.”


Supporting Fundraising Effectiveness for Greater Results

With Blackbaud CRM serving as the strategic data platform, gift officers were able to achieve a more holistic view of constituents to increase fundraising effectiveness. The comprehensive constituent view provides gift officers with customized capacity ratings, interaction tracking, engagement insight, and other key data points to help power their success. Tracking historical plans and opportunities offered critical insight into past solicitation strategies that helped gift officers when onboarding inherited prospects and making future strategies more informed and effective.

“The solution’s flexibility to manage multi-unit asks and complex donor agreements has proven to be an emerging requirement in today’s world of high major donor expectations. Campaigns have become highly collaborative partnerships among internal stakeholders and Blackbaud CRM’s ability to handle and report on those complexities became a critical success factor,” Witkowski said.

Delivering Campaign Tracking and Insight

To support the ongoing campaign strategy, the BU team leveraged Blackbaud CRM’s tracking capabilities to provide stakeholders visibility into fundraiser performance and campaign metrics:

  • Fundraiser effectiveness dashboards provided insight into fundraiser activities and surfaced constituent analytics based on event attendance, relationship to the institution, and other key data points.
  • Campaign progress reporting allowed the team to deliver accurate and timely information to stakeholders, which built trust and confidence in the data across campus.
  • Complex revenue management capabilities supported sophisticated gift processing and revenue tracking needs.

Extending the Solution

The BU application development team leveraged the extensibility of Blackbaud CRM by using the software developer kit (SDK) to customize features to improve the user experience and support the unique business requirements of the institution.

The student outreach tracker customization helped support the unique stewardship program needs of their comprehensive campaign and was recognized by CASE with a 2019 Circle of Excellence award. Building on past projects between BU’s stewardship and donor relations team (SDR) and development and alumni relations applications team, this custom-built tool automated the process of requesting and tracking submissions of thank-you letters from students receiving donor-funded scholarships. It also allowed the SDR team to prioritize outreach by donor rating, track student submissions, and identify funds that have not yet been awarded.

Strategies for Future Success

To keep this positive momentum going, the BU team is already thinking about how they can build on their campaign success and better support future fundraising initiatives. A few areas under consideration include:

  • Grow understanding of alumni interests and engagement, including identifying and tracking the true interests of their alumni and their donors—what they’re interested in funding that’s not necessarily inherent in the data that they have today.
  • Explore how big data and data science can support future strategic initiatives.
  • Continue to consolidate different groups and data sets across campus to track the complete life cycle of interactions.
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Boston University
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