bbcon Insights to Power 2020 Higher Ed Planning | npENGAGE

Power 2020 Higher Ed Planning with these bbcon Insights

By on Nov 26, 2019


bbcon, higher ed trends, Higher Education, College

Last month we concluded bbcon 2019, the premier tech gathering for organizations and change agents driving social good, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, TN.  Over 3,000 attendees, with almost 1,000 representing higher education institutions, convened to share the latest trends and innovations.  

This year we were also delighted to host more than 150 higher ed leaders for our first-ever Higher Education Executive Summit, bringing together executives and key decision makers to focus on the latest trends, challenges, research, and ideas in the industry.  Throughout the week, attendees participated in more than 300 sessions led by industry leaders, customers, and partners.  

“bbcon provides institutions a great opportunity to network with peers and industry experts while catching up on the latest trendsThe session topics covered, like learning about the innovations being delivered in Blackbaud CRM, are invaluable to Clemson and enrich our strategy throughout the year.” 

– Larissa Riggins Kelly, Senior Director of Advancement Services, Clemson University 

If you were not able to attend, you can still use the summary below to inspire meaningful conversations and help for your 2020 planning.  

Supporting transformation with data  

With an ever-increasing volume of data available, higher education practitioners must be thoughtful about creating and implementing data strategies to inform action.  Data delivery and the ability to shape that data are critical components of supporting successSeveral bbcon sessions featured insight from customers on how data models were leveraged to drive advancement initiatives.  Customers discussed strategies for using data to increase engagement with young alumni, identify and prioritize prospects, and deliver portfolio insight to development officers.  In almost all cases, leaders that focused their business intelligence and analytics efforts to answer strategic questions achieved better results and were better positioned for future success.   

Implementing digital transformation 

As the higher education technology landscape continues to evolve, institutions must adapt to keep pace with the increasingly sophisticated expectations of new and existing alumni communities.  Panelists in our Higher Education Super Session shared how they prioritize technology investment, effectively manage the change that comes with tech adoption, and are leveraging digital transformation to strengthen engagement with students and alumni.    

Here are a few of the best practices shared to support effective technology transformation:  

  • View technology investment as catalyst for the business change you would like to implement 
  • Take the time to break down communication silos across campus 
  • Build a process for making decisions across units 
  • Develop your new technology to take advantages of new opportunities  
  • View the implementation of new technology as the beginning by developing process for continuous improvement and ongoing transformation after go-live 

Stewarding in the modern era 

As institutions are becoming increasingly techfocuseddigital transformation is emerging as a key force in the future of donor stewardshipColleges and universities are dedicating resources to develop separate stewardship programs that drive future giving and show donors the impact they are having on campus.  

Blackbaud research shows that more than 50% of higher education institutions focused on creating more impactful donor stewardship practices in 2019. And with gift officers being regularly pulled into activities that fall outside their purview of making visits and asking for gifts, we expect to see this percentage grow.  

Strengthening and preserving relationships with donors is essential to an institution’s success – donors want to know that their funds are going to support the causes they care about. Given that 47% of alumni donate to nonprofits as opposed to their alma mater because they think their causes are more worthy, now is the time that your institution needs to put the processes and technology in place to share this information with them. 

More than 30 sessions dedicated to higher education institutions, including many led by customers.   

  • In a higher education panel session, leaders from Blackbaud customersGeorgia Tech Foundation,  Clemson University, and University of South Carolina joined Mike Reardon of Blackbaud to share strategies for advancing technology initiatives on campus with perspectives that represented different stages of CRM technology adoption.    
  • Dwight Dozier, chief information officer at Georgia Tech Foundation (GTF) joined Kevin McDearis, chief products officer at Blackbaud, on the bbcon mainstage for a Q&A interview around technology and digital transformation as it relates to the Georgia Tech Foundation’s recently-live CRM solution implementation.  Attendees heard about the role of technology in solving the challenges GTF faces, how GTF stays ahead of the curve, and some of the biggest transformations that Dwight has seen to the landscape in which he works. 
  • This year’s Higher Ed Super Session featured Derek Clark, assistant vice president of advancement services at University of South Carolina, Lindsey Hoham, director oadvancement operations at Colgate University, Jeanne Pecha, vice president for advancement services and development support at Brown University, Fred Weiss, chief research and data officer at CASE, and Tim Hill, president & GM of Blackbaud Higher Education Solutions. They discussed talent management, diversity and inclusion programs, the importance of communicating your institution’s value, and the role of technology in the higher education sector. 
  • Captured in The #bbcon Lounge:
    • James Wiley, principal analyst at Eduventures sat down with Tim Hill in The#bbcon Lounge for a recap of the latest tech trends in higher education and how institutions can best respond.  You can check out a recording of this interview on YouTube. 
    • Fred Weiss and Tim Hill discussed emerging trends in the higher education sectorFred shared key findings from CASE’s 2018 Voluntary Support of Education Survey and highlights from CASE’s “Alumni Engagement Metrics” whitepaper, an industry-wide framework to measure alumni engagement. If you missed it, a recording of the video is available on YouTube. 

Missed out on bbcon this year? The bbcon virtual pass delivers unlimited on-demand access to over 13 hours of main stage presentations and other premier content on demand from bbcon 2019, with unlimited access through until March 2020! Virtual Passes for bbcon 2019 are available for purchase until December 31, 2019.    

Explore additional resources around these topics on the Blackbaud Higher Education content hub. Then, lock in your ticket to bbcon 2020 in Seattle now with discounted rates! 


Alison serves as the Senior Manager of Vertical Marketing for the Higher Education Solutions team. In her role, Alison is responsible for leading the go-to-market strategy for the enterprise market and the content strategy for the vertical. In her 14 years at Blackbaud, she has managed the CRM Product Marketing Portfolio team, served as a Senior Enterprise Solutions Engineer, and worked as a Principal Consultant, where she worked with International and North American customers to successfully implement Blackbaud solutions. Prior to joining Blackbaud, she served as the Director of Information Systems for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, overseeing technology initiatives including, fundraising, ticketing, and marketing systems. Alison lives in Chicago, IL with her husband and four-year-old son. 

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