CRM adds critical functionality to university advancement

CRM adds critical functionality to university advancement

By Ellucian on Thursday, July 20, 2017

What do university advancement and the private sector have in common? According to Mark Koenig, more than you might think—both types of organizations revolve around sales and marketing.

Koenig, assistant vice president for advancement services for the Oregon State University Foundation, asserts that many institutions have been slow to recognize the link between fundraising and marketing. “We must bring a for-profit marketing perspective to higher education,” he recommends. “Frankly, we’re medieval institutions, and we can be glacial at times, but I think that we as an industry have been missing the boat here.”

Instead, colleges and universities must think like multichannel marketers. “At the end of the day, the annual fund is a marketing division,” Koenig says. “They do segmentation, they send out mailings and emails, they may use crowdfunding or crowdsourcing initiatives, they may use the telefund—they must manage all the different vehicles through which they run their program.”

To accomplish their goals, institutions need the same sort of robust customer relationship management (CRM) systems that businesses do. Selecting the right solution for higher education can be challenging, Koenig concedes. “If you look at most of the major players that market a CRM solution right now, their core legacy products are 20 to 30 years old,” he says. What’s more, many were designed more as electronic Rolodex systems rather than the fully functioning CRM systems available today.

Koenig considers a true CRM platform to be one that handles the sales process and integrates with other tools and systems such as those for call centers, social tracking, and digital marketing campaigns. He notes that a modern CRM system needs to be adaptable and interoperate with other tools.

OSU has planned for growth by deploying Ellucian CRM Advance fundraising software. The software supports a variety of university advancement giving programs through customizable dashboards. "A CRM system lets you control the business workflows so if you're a major gift officer, you see the right things. If you're a gift processing person, you see the right things. Your business workflows make sense."

CRM has many potential uses on campus. “What’s really exciting for us are the automated marketing features and the ability to link to professional tools for digital marketing,” Koenig says.

Koenig cites the example of the alumni relations department—most do a good job of producing alumni magazines. “The process breaks down in how we deliver those magazines, who gets them, and why they get them. Do alumni choose to get them? Marketing isn’t always included in this equation,” he explains.

Overall, Koenig looks forward to taking advantage of a modern CRM system. “It allows us to think far more strategically about our data and how we effectively market,” he concludes.

MARK KOENIG, Assistant Vice President for Advancement Services, Oregon State University Foundation
Koenig coordinates the foundation’s fundraising efforts and oversees research, relationship management, IT services, and database management operations. Taking advantage of his 17 years of experience advancing higher education, Mark focuses on the development and use of funding best practices.

To learn how Ellucian can help you reach your advancement goals, please visit our Alumni Relations and Fundraising page.

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