I’m the girl who calls during dinner

It’s true. It’s’ me. I call during dinner, and you probably screen that call. Well, to be fair, our student call center are the ones calling, but it all comes out of the office I work in: Boston College University Advancement. I’ve shared some details with the class before, but this always feels like the skeleton in the closet. But to be fair, when is anyone home except at dinner time? And well, nowadays, who even has a house phone? It certainly speaks to why we as an industry have to start thinking differently about digital, because the dinner time phone call might not exist soon enough.

Boston College University Advancement is not breaking any technology grounds anytime soon. However, we have made some strides to utilize new digital products to try and change how we are interacting with our communities.


Social Toaster

One product our Annual Giving Marketing and Participation team has implemented has been Social Toaster. The product allows BC ambassadors to share branded BC content with their followers across multiple social media platforms. For us at BCUA, we’ve entitled the program “Trending Eagles” and each engagement gives the user points. Top point earners receive prizes along with drawings to reward engaged users.



Users receive an email whenever we have content to distribute and with a click of a button, the content shares across whatever platforms where access has been granted.

It’s a very small amount of effort on the part of the user, but helps spread content into networks BC previously wasn’t reaching. The content ranges from campus updates, stories from students and alumni, and solicitation appeals.







Evertrue is another product being tested throughout our office. A big part of development and advancement at a university is research. Knowing who are donors are, where they are, and what they are giving is great. But knowing wealth markers makes a huge difference in the work we do, being able to appropriately navigate conversations around giving to the University know what they might be able to contribute. While we have plenty of wealth screeners that have access to any public data, there are a few aspects of social media we cannot infiltrate. That’s where Evertrue comes in.

There are two big areas we use Evertrue for: Facebook and LinkedIn. Often not appearing as “public data”, Evertrue helps compile Facebook engagement and LinkedIn career profiles when our other tools cannot. These two pieces help further assemble the puzzle that are the pieces of University Advancement. Knowing the career track of a prospect can help determine if they are on track to come into great wealth; knowing the Facebook engagement of a prospect can identify areas of the University they are passionate about.

My role doesn’t utilize Evertrue, so I don’t have access to give you as many fun screenshots. But with the increasing role LinkedIn plays in the job market, it has become a helpful tool in finding donors who have switched jobs, and therefore lost their email address, or identify future donors to engage with now as they are on a strong career track. As well, the Facebook engagement tool has helped us identify passionate alumni, who might be convinced to increase their philanthropic support.

Journey Builder

One final tool we are implementing as I type, is Journey Builder. In short, is a product from Salesforce that allows our Marketing team to craft a “journey” of marketing touch points. It allows for different people to receive different messaging, similar messaging but in different order, and over to craft a specific path for each donor based on their profile and their response to each marketing touch point.

journeybuildRecently implemented, we are using Journey Builder for a solicitation for donors we think can contribute at the $10,000 level, what we call the “Gasson Circle”. Those we have identified will be receiving a marketing pieces in the mail, highlighting the stories of some of our BC students attending on financial aid. From there, the recipients will receive emails over the next seven weeks to the tailored “journey”, emails being sent based on the actions the recipient takes – clicking on links, making a gift, and interacting with the website. This is allowing us to not only create a personal, tailored experience, but also to gain data on how our donors are interacting with our marketing pieces.

Overall, there are so many products and digital tools that can be used in the world of development and fundraising. But decision makers have to constantly weigh the ROI as budgets are carefully watched to make sure that we are moving ever dollar possible to funding the University priorities. So every time you receive that flyer in the mail or one of many emails from your University or another charity, you know now how much thought might have gone into you receiving it!


  1. I find the Journey Builder tool really interesting! I think we can get caught up in the spontaneity or “real-time” nature of marketing now, but I think this tool highlights the need for a plan or “journey” at times to allow for targeted marketing and a clear view. The ability for Journey Builder to also capture so much data about the marketing seems to be key. The importance of data at all points in the marketing process has become so important. Data is not only needed to know who or how to market to, but it can also be used to know the impact or effect of the marketing.

    Trending Eagles is also an interesting example of using the crowd and expanding exposure beyond those in direct reach. I find it amazing the impact making something a “competition” or putting a prize on something can have. I wonder how much of an impact Trending Eagles has had or if you see it as a success.

  2. A great post that illustrates communication tactics for fundraising & donations! Just like @katietisinger, I also found Journey Builder especially unique and effective. I used to work at BC’s Cadigan Alumni Center for Gifts & Records targeting BC grads & their donations, and I have always wondered if the donors ever get to see how their money is spent. I am sure they trust BC in spending the money wisely and know the specific department/cause they are donating for, but I believe the Journey Builder tool creates a “personal touch” between the donors and recipients. By all means, the recipients should be grateful for the donations they receive (regardless of the amount), and the donors have the right to know how it is being spent. This tool effectively fulfills both parties’ interests by enabling a warm connection between the two without making it look like an obligation for them to connect.

  3. As someone who has had to raise money for non-profits in the past, I give anyone credit who has the ability to go out and ask people for money. It takes a special kind of skill that I simply do not have. With that being said, in recent years I have always wondered why institutions still think that cold calling landlines is still an effective form of communication with a given donor base. I am pleasantly surprised to see the various ways in which BC is trying to break that mold and adapt to today’s digital landscape. As an undergrad, it is difficult for me to see these things in action, but I guess I will be privy to them soon enough!

    With that being said, I would be interested to hear about how BC tries to target its most recent alumni for donations. While this group might not be as wealthy as those that they are targeting in the “Gasson Circle”, I think it is still important to keep young alumni in touch with the BC community. I’m assuming that a lot of tools mentioned above can be tailored to this demographic specifically, but I would be interested to learn if there are any specific struggles with trying to reach this group that BC has identified. Great post!

  4. Nice look behind the scenes! Gotta find other avenues if people dont’ pick up the phone!

  5. @katietisinger I believe we have seen an increase in engagement, which was our intent. Overall, just bringing more awareness to our social pages and getting some click through to websites. So far, so good!

    @jobabes121 I think one of the cool parts of donating to BC is that you can designate your donation to where ever you would like. And if you say its going to financial aid, that’s where its going. The only place you wouldn’t know where your money is, would be if you donated to the “BC Fund”. However, I can share that the BC Fund goes to fill budget gaps, often times the gap in financial aid.

    @danmiller315 our big push in younger donors have been our GOLD alumni group, “graudates of the last decade” – engaging through specific events, appeals, and lowering donor giving “circles” to include them in their first years our of school. We’ve seen great success getting younger alumni to see the impact of giving back!

  6. cool look into whos behind the donor phone call! I’m already getting messages from my high school AND BC about donating to the school, and I haven’t even graduated yet! Think it is so important to personalize all interactions between people now, in some type of way, as more and more people use social media/ see ads all the time. Engaging in a personal and real way really does get people to be more willing to engage and be active. Trending Eagles seems like a great way to get people involved and is a low level of commitment which is always a plus.

    as @danmiller315 mentioned above, young alumni are definitely going to be important donors to target for later on, but also can be hard. Using Evertrue is so amazing to determine what donors will be able to contribute more money, younger donors have the potential to grow into those “Gasson Circle” donors.. Something my high school does is ask alumni to donate money based on their age or their class year. Asked me to give $21 dollars to the school, a good way to get continuous small giving that can transition in to big giving later!

  7. Of the tools you talk about, I think Evertrue is the most interesting to me. I think it is incredible and extremely powerful to be able to pull and analyze data from social media engagement like how your office does. This one is definitely straddling that creepy-cool line we always talk about. While your office uses it to determine alumni wealth and engagement, I think is flexible enough to be uses in a wide variety of applications. It’s interesting to see the technology used in fundraising efforts as people are less inclined to pick up their home phone.

  8. Great post, especially from a fellow BC employee in the Office of University Communications! I’d definitely be interested in talking more with you about the “Journey Builder” tool and how you are strategizing the types of content you push to the BC community.

    Lastly, what types of digital content have you found to be most effective? Specifically, and influenced by my video work, how successful are BC Advancement videos in earning donations and increasing engagement? Have you found it is most effective to share general BC content and make the ask in the email or “call to action” component of the content, or have you found its more effective if the video itself is specifically geared toward the “Ask” and concludes with that “Give Now” end card?

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