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Information Systems & Management

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The Great Alumni Hunt
Article,  Community College News Article By challenging teams of volunteers to a friendly competition, a California community college foundation reconnected with more than 1,100 alumni in just a month.

Applications & Software
Applications & Software

Data Management
Data Management

Lost Alumni
Lost Alumni

System Selection & Implementation
System Selection & Implementation

Vetting Vendors
CURRENTS Article Today, advancement services professionals are inundated with requests to consider products or accept meetings from companies ranging from startups to familiar names that have expanded their product lines. There are at least 20 different companies offering giving day, mobile giving, and annual fund services; dozens of email platform vendors; and several database companies. Advancement professionals say they're seeing more donor stewardship products to help them capitalize on engagement; more back-office solutions to synchronize or standardize data and sources, manage projects, or marry multiple platforms; and more cloud-based services that make advancement systems available anytime on any device.

Getting Your Metrics System to Work for You
CURRENTS Article From 2012 to 2016, Reggie Bustinza and Joe Volin were tasked with tracking engagement for the nearly 37,000 alumni at Lewis University in Illinois. They got big results, and their system continues to live on after their time at the institution. Here they share their secrets for taking alumni metrics to the next level.

CURRENTS Article Advice on handling an advancement colleague's inappropriate relationship with a donor; Colorado State's lessons on making a recipe video; and how to avoid errors in your database's list of deceased alumni.

The Great Alumni Hunt Continues: Student Sleuths Track Down More Alumni
Article,  BriefCASE Article A collaborative effort between one institution and its foundation netted hundreds of newly found alumni and stronger communications between faculty and advancement staff.

Endowment Growth Stays Average, but Giving Continues to Rise in 2016
Article,  BriefCASE Article The rate of growth for endowments of U.S. colleges and universities maintained an average rate in 2016, according to the NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. The 805 U.S. institutions that participated collectively reported an average return of -1.9 percent for fiscal year 2016 compared with 2.4 percent for fiscal year 2015.

How Well Do You Know Your Alumni?
CURRENTS Article Schools and universities are harvesting information alumni self-report or using behavioral analytics—how people react to content—to drive communications, engagement, and fundraising strategies. Social media insights allow institutions to identify prospects and volunteers and better understand existing ones. Much of the innovation is coming from companies with proprietary software, such as EverTrue, Cerkl, IBM, and QuadWrangle, as many colleges and universities lack the bandwidth to constantly monitor social media. But monitor they must. One recent survey found that 72 percent of people who complain to a company via Twitter expect a reply—within the hour.

Loved, but Lost
CURRENTS Article Your lost alumni have become untethered, drifting away from their beloved campus, and you're not sure how to bring them back. Some don't update contact information when they relocate; others ignore your correspondence because they think you only want money. Still others might like to reconnect but don't know how or are too busy to realize they haven't heard from you. Search-and-rescue attempts aren't easy. Tight budgets don't help, nor do increasing numbers of graduates, many of whom hop jobs and locations early in their career. But even with these challenges, institutions are designing affordable, innovative campaigns for finding alumni who could become a valuable part of the college's mission. Here's what you can learn from them.

First Class
CURRENTS Article In 2015, CASE added the Platinum Categories to its Circle of Excellence awards to recognize the best-of-the-best practices in educational advancement publications, programs, and projects through a tournament-like competition in CASE's eight North American districts.

The Great Alumni Hunt
Article,  BriefCASE Article By challenging teams of volunteers to a friendly competition, a college reconnected with more than 1,100 alumni in just a month.

Talking Points: The Bandwidth Battle
CURRENTS Article Net neutrality will only become more important as new technologies transform education and the economy. Higher education institutions and libraries must remain vigilant and defend the need for an open and neutral Internet. We can do this individually or through our professional organizations and by reaching out to our members of Congress and the FCC. Preserving the free flow of information over the Internet is critical to our educational purpose and mission.

Odds and Ends: Investigating Inventiveness
CURRENTS Article Walter Isaacson on technology—and why smartphones won’t make us zombies

Outlook: Remaking Advancement, Google-Style
CURRENTS Article The standard set by Amazon, Apple, and others recognizes the value of providing a great experience. The widening gap between those experiences and what we offer—one-way communications that don't adapt to reader interests; standard appeals; stewardship that, except for top donors, ranges from one size fits all to awful—erodes loyalty and makes alumni less likely to respond when we make the ask. But a solution exists. It's as simple as creating a relationship in which alumni and donors stay with us because it is in their interest to do so, not just in ours. In which people think of the university as a source of knowledge that engages them, personally or professionally.

Office Space: Give Us All Your Data
CURRENTS Article This column takes the position that advancement services should manage the institution's database of record, not just the segments that pertain to alumni and development. This is the model currently used by Columbia College Chicago, where advancement services tracks relationships with all of the college's constituents, including alumni, parents, faculty, staff, donors, trustees, friends, and students.

Encourage Spring Cleaning of Fundraising Databases
Advancement Weekly Article,  Article To ensure success in the year ahead, fundraising leaders should take time now to make sure their donor databases are "thoroughly cleaned and scrubbed," says a development expert.

Use of Technology for Development and Alumni/Constituent Relations among CASE Members, 2012
Report This research explores the role of "advancement-enabling" technology in helping institutions meet their development and alumni relations goals. The report also looks at trends since the first study was conducted in 2010 and offers advice for dealing with technology-related advancement challenges. Isurus Market Research and Consulting analyzed the data for CASE and Ellucian, which fielded the survey.

Getting LinkedIn with Lost Alumni
Article,  Community College News Article A Pennsylvania community college more than tripled its alumni mailing directory in less than two years using the social network LinkedIn.

Out of Thin Air, an Alumni Database
Article,  Community College News Article When the Northwest Technical College Foundation was established in 2005, it had a problem. The small Bemidji, Minn., institution and its predecessor colleges had never kept track of alumni data in their 40-year history. In 2009, the foundation set about the tall task of compiling its very first alumni database. And it found a significant number of alumni by asking local businesses for help in the search process.

New Brief Provides Guidance on Privacy, Student Records
Article,  BriefCASE Article Alumni relations practitioners, admissions professionals and others who use electronic student record systems now have a one-stop source for information and guidance on guarding student privacy in school data.

Rising Above
CURRENTS Article This article highlights eight of the 2010 Circle of Excellence Award winners. Each year the awards recognize the best programs and products in advancement services, alumni relations, communications, marketing, and fundraising.

Use of Technology for Development and Alumni Relations among CASE Members
White Paper This research explores the role of "advancement-enabling" technology in helping institutions meet their development and alumni relations goals. It includes data on how technology is being used, barriers to effective use of technology, and strategies for effective deployment of technology. The report is based on data provided by 357 advancement staff in higher education institutions and independent schools. Isurus Market Research and Consulting analyzed the data for CASE and SunGard Higher Education, which fielded the survey.

Adjusting Your Gaze
CURRENTS Article In an interview with CURRENTS, predictive-modeling expert Peter Wylie discusses his work, including his latest analysis of lifetime giving at a broad range of higher education institutions.

Getting the Full Picture
CURRENTS Article At independent schools, community and small colleges, and large universities alike, CRM is widely used at both ends of an individual’s education experience—during the recruitment and admissions process and throughout the years that follow departure from school. To a much lesser degree, CRM is beginning to be deployed as the student matriculates and advances through school.

Charting the Progress
CURRENTS Article This chart includes vendor-supplied information on advancement database systems for an at-a-glance look at what is available.

Tech Support: Laptops Required Here?
CURRENTS Article Advancement officers can be important partners in forming and implementing a laptop policy

Tech Support: Scheduling in Cyberspace
CURRENTS Article The pros and cons of online calendars

Office Space: Sweeping the Data Clouds Away
CURRENTS Article Managing an unwieldy data system can be overwhelming, but by prioritizing projects and assessing processes, the database can become a friend rather than a foe.

Winning Ideas
CURRENTS Article This article gives in-depth profiles of eight of the 2008 CASE Circle of Excellence Award winners. These winners were chosen to represent a wide range of types of institution as well as each aspect of advancement: fundraising, alumni relations, communications and marketing, and advancement services.

Newer Digital Tools Bridge Data Divide
Article,  BriefCASE Article The latest constituent relationship management technology is transforming the ability of advancement professionals to capture and analyze information about donors, both on campus and on the road.

Other Programs: Rollins College - Silver Medal
Best Practice The advancement services department at Rollins College is primarily responsible for the technical training of employees within the Division of Institutional Advancement. During the fall of 2006, staff saw an increased demand for SCT Banner and Nolij Web training and developed a Training on Demand program featuring custom Web videos.

Research Services: University of Colorado Foundation - Bronze Medal
Best Practice Staff of the University of Colorado Foundation conducted an audit of all projects to identify aspects of their work that could be automated. They spent a great deal of time producing "biographies" of current and prospective donors who attend athletic and other social events, which were used primarily by the university president and chancellors, the foundation president and their spouses who attend these events. Automating the biography function has exponentially benefited the organization and its fundraising operation.

Information Systems: McMaster University - Silver Medal
Best Practice When McMaster University decided to embark on its most ambitious fundraising campaign ever--a comprehensive campaign that would more than double the amount to be raised each year in 2006-2009--it needed to expand performance management and benchmarks for fundraisers beyond the number of completed visits. Stakeholders collaborated to create a Performance Management Report based on data in the institution's Advance C/S database.

Advance Work: Here We Are
CURRENTS Article Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts in England found the perfect way to get alumni to update their address and job information: offer them the chance of some free publicity.

A League of Their Own
CURRENTS Article The 2006 Circle of Excellence award winners profiled in this article are hitting it out of the park. This article describes a few of the grand gold and gold medal award winners.

Making the Big System Switch
CURRENTS Article Switching to a new advancement system can be a bear of a project. This article provides an overview of how to approach system implementation from its three basic phases: pre-implementation, implementation, and post-implementation.

Inside Out
CURRENTS Article This chart, CURRENTS' sixth since 1986, lists 37 alumni/development database programs along with vendor, contact, pricing, platform, reporting, capacity, client, and access information for products targeting the education marketplace.

AdvanceWork: Experience Nottingham
CURRENTS Article Keeping track of alumni after they’ve graduated can be difficult. Nottingham Trent University shifted the burden by organizing a contest that rewarded alumni who confirm or update their directory information. More than 4,300 alumni entered the contest, and one lucky winner walked away with a Nottingham weekend-for-two prize package that included a stay at a luxury hotel and tickets to several local attractions.

One Craft, Different Cultures
CURRENTS Article More alumni directors outside North America are reaching out to their alumni audiences to encourage lifelong relationships with alma mater. However, these alumni directors face unique challenges. In Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Australia, school and university alumni often don’t have the tradition of giving to alma mater that’s a given in the United States and Canada. The institutions might not have maintained close ties with alumni, and poor record keeping can hinder relationship-building efforts. Some institutions' goals for alumni relations include encouraging continuing education and career networking by alumni as well as fund raising. Campus alumni offices also can become resources for groups of alumni who are more connected to each other than to the institution.

Winners at Heart
CURRENTS Article Profiles of 12 winners of CASE’s 2004 Circle of Excellence awards. The winning alumni relations programs offered creative ways to generate revenue, use technology, or support a campus cause. In the development categories, campuses showed how to use flash e-mail annual giving solicitations and speech-writing students to attract donors. Communications winners relied on humor, creativity, and unconventional publications. And top advancement services shops highlighted the importance of identifying top campus prospects, working as a team, and maintaining accurate data.

Keeping Better Tabs
CURRENTS Article Taking a page from the commercial sector’s customer relationship management playbook, education institutions are developing alumni relationship-management systems that promise to revolutionize how alumni offices do business. This story highlights efforts by the Association of Alumni and Alumnae of MIT, Harvard University, and the Iowa State University Alumni Association.

A Symphony of Software
CURRENTS Article A chart listing 39 alumni and development database software programs, and providing vendor, contact, price, platform, reporting tool, capacity, and client information, will be of interest to advancement services and information technology staff.

Special Event Production
CURRENTS Article A chart listing 15 special event management software programs, and providing information on vendors, contacts, price, servers, features, report templates, and clients, will be of interest to event planners and information technology staff.

Ultimate Presumption
CURRENTS Article When should you give up looking for lost alumni who might be deceased? Some campuses draw the line at 50 years after graduation, but others say 65 or even 100 years—and they don't rely solely on the Social Security Death Index for confirmation.

Tech Support: Diary of a Conversion
CURRENTS Article The author recounts her university’s experience with selecting and converting to a new alumni and donor records database just before the campus launched a major campaign. Her account of the decision-making, training, and implementation process should be of interest to all those who use records databases, particularly advancement services officers and those who manage technology or select and deal with software vendors.

Tech Support: On the Same Page
CURRENTS Article Intranets--one-stop online communication centers that bring together calendars, office discussion boards, and documents--can improve internal communications in advancement offices. Universities with large or decentralized advancement operations use intranets for coordinating scattered staff and projects, while smaller institutions may also find them helpful for sharing resources and managing schedules. The article offers advice on creating and maintaining an intranet.

Tech Support: Buy or Build?
CURRENTS Article Development offices have three major options for database software: designing a database in-house using basic database software, selecting a ready-to-use package designed specifically for fund-raising offices, or hiring a consultant to create a customized database. This article describes each option and offers advice on making the right choice for your office.

AdvanceWork: On the Trail of Lost Alumni
CURRENTS Article Locating lost alumni takes time, money, and institutional commitment. Here are seven tips to make the task easier.

AdvanceWork: What's in a Name?
CURRENTS Article Six different ways campuses define the term "alumni"

Tech Support: Special Delivery
CURRENTS Article Push technology, a means of retrieving online data by subscribing to services that send desired information directly to your computer, can enable advancement officers to request updates on donor prospects, to track what's going on in specific industries, or to monitor institutional mentions in the media. Most push services require online registration, but many are free or low-cost. The article lists five sites providing push technology services useful to advancement officers.

AdvanceWork: Seek and Ye Shall Find
CURRENTS Article This article covers five tips for tracking down lost alumni.

Software Update 2000
CURRENTS Article A detailed chart provides information on available alumni-development database systems and software vendors, based on data from the consulting firm Grenzebach Glier & Associates.

What's In the Cards?
CURRENTS Article Professionals who work with advancement information systems offer predictions for the field in the next five years. They foresee: 1) easier access to development systems, particularly via the Web; 2) integration of small, separate systems into single, large databases; 3) personalized entry points and reports; 4) improved automation that will anticipate what users want and help them get it.

Tech Support: Software Smarts
CURRENTS Article To choose the right software for an advancement office, institutional computer services professionals should follow these steps: 1) Meet with the program's intended user to learn about needs, expectations, skill, budget, and other factors. 2) Collect information from e-mail lists, Web sites, colleagues, and software manufacturers. 3) Test a demonstration copy of the program. 4) Make the purchase, including a maintenance agreement. 5) Set ground rules on what the user should and can expect from you.

Tech Support: Putting Paper in Its Place
CURRENTS Article Document imaging (the electronic storage of paper files) can help control paper clutter. Ley summarizes what he learned from establishing such a system for managing development records at Southern Methodist University. He recommends involving computer services personnel, gift records and prospect research staffers, and other development officers and administrators who will use the material.

Tech Support: Protect Your Computer from Viruses
CURRENTS Article Computer viruses can destroy software and stored data. The first line of defense is to make regular backups of vital data and to invest in an antivirus program. Goldsborough, a technology columnist and author, summarizes the potential risk of common computer uses and tells how to distinguish between a legitimate virus warning and a hoax.

Manager's Portfolio: Dogs Watching Television
CURRENTS Article Development head Helm describes lessons he learned after overseeing a database conversion at Colby College. He notes that the characteristics that make a good development officer -- such as optimism, outward orientation, a generalist background, diplomacy, and the ability to delegate -- can interfere with effective technology management. He offers some suggestions on managing technology: 1) Establish a good relationship with the information services staff. 2) Invest in training. 3) View technology as an operating cost, not a capital investment. 4) Value and nurture technology gurus.

AdvanceWork: All Access Required?
CURRENTS Article Advancement Services with John H. Taylor

Tech Support: Recipe for a Successful Conversion
CURRENTS Article Transferring old data into a new alumni-development database involves three major steps, each of which requires the right selection of workers, as follows: 1) Map the fields in the old system with corresponding fields in the new one. Involve a staff member who knows the data, a person who knows the technical details of the new system, and the programmer who will do the work. 2) Program the conversion so data flows into the new system's formats. This requires a skilled programmer, possibly from an outside source. 3) Test the new system. Everyone who uses the system can help, including fund raisers, alumni officers, data-entry staff and receptionists.

In Advance: Technology vs. Reality
CURRENTS Article The real deal on eight common misconceptions about hardware and software

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