Stewardship 2.0 | npENGAGE

Stewardship 2.0

By on Feb 2, 2009


I wanted to share a recent example of a good idea coming to life through the use of some collaboration, ingenuity, and having the right technology tools.

The Challenge
It is very common for nonprofits to use naming opportunities, plaques, bricks, memorials, and other tribute gifts as part of their fundraising efforts. But many struggle with stewarding and leveraging the physical nature of the gift.

Ave Maria University had that exact same challenge and they teamed up with Blackbaud Internet Solutions to build a unique Memorial Locator. The goal of the project was simple — Allow people to be able to find their gift.

The Solution
A mixture of strategy, creativity, and technology enabled people to search, select, view a memorial gift that has been made, and perhaps make an additional memorial gift. Today the locator contains more than 4,000 memorial gifts with plans to grow it to more than 40,000 in the coming years.

The experience is dynamic — A combination of Flash, ActionScript, and SOAP allows the interface to display information from The Raiser's Edge — right down to exact location and the words inscribed on the memorial.

Audience and Reach
The solution allowed a variety of audiences to take advantage of the information. Donors and their families can look up information online. Major gift officers use it to help steward existing donors and as a powerful way to demonstrate the giving experience to prospective donors. Visitors to the Ave Maria Oratory can locate memorials using a kiosk that is connected to the Internet.

Opportunity meets Ingenuity
You might be wondering how this all works behind the scenes. All gifts in The Raiser's Edge are coded with additional information to indicate the type of memorial gift, any inscriptions, and the location of the brick or other type of memorial. The Flash movie uses an XML file to determine what should be displayed on the campus map. A SOAP call was developed to handle the transfer of information from The Raiser's Edge.

There was also some logic put in place to handle anonymous gifts and developed with future expansion in mind. The memorial locator was designed to allow Ave Maria to make changes without ongoing design or programming costs. Their staff can add new textures, brick or memorial types, and photographs of other campus memorials into the solution.

Integration in Action
There are certainly a lot of broader applications for this type of solution. And every fundraiser who has seen the Ave Maria memorial locator can't stop playing around with it and thinking about the possibilities. Integration isn't just about getting valuable data back into a system. It's also about using the wealth of information you already have to help drive your mission forward.

The Ave Maria project demonstrates the tremendous potential of leveraging CRM data to elevate the giving experience. Blackbaud clients have an unmatched set of tools to use both online and offline data to engage with constituents.


Steve MacLaughlin is the Vice President of Data & Analytics at Blackbaud and bestselling author of Data Driven Nonprofits.

MacLaughlin has been featured as a fundraising and nonprofit expert in many mainstream publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, USA Today, The NonProfit Times, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Bloomberg, and has appeared on NPR.

He is a frequent speaker at events including the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), American Marketing Association (AMA), Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Direct Marketing Fundraisers Association (DMFA), Giving Institute Summer Symposium, National Association of Independent School (NAIS), Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC), Institute of Fundraising National Convention (United Kingdom), Civil Society Conference (Netherlands), International Fundraising Congress (Netherlands), Ask Direct Fundraising Summer School (Ireland), and a keynote speaker at several conferences across the social good sector.

Steve previously served on the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) Board of Directors and is currently an adjunct faculty member at Columbia University.

He is a frequent blogger, published author of a chapter in the book People to People Fundraising: Social Networking and Web 2.0 for Charities, and is a co-editor of the book Internet Management for Nonprofits: Strategies, Tools & Trade Secrets. His latest book, Data Driven Nonprofits, became a bestseller in 2016.

Steve earned both his undergraduate degree and a Master of Science degree in Interactive Media from Indiana University.

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