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Tracking donors online – The power of intranets

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By Ann Claycombe

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Internal computer networks, known as intranets, can be powerful fundraising tools.

That was message of Jay Hartford, former senior director of corporate and foundation relations at the University of Michigan, who spoke at the July monthly meeting of the Triangle chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives.

Intranets can be simple, Hartford said.

Michigan, for example, created a Web site that can be used only by those who have a password.

“We found that people who used it a lot were secretaries and administrative assistants trying to keep their bosses informed,” he said.

Hartford created an intranet for the use of fundraisers throughout the University of Michigan system. The site’s main feature was a database of its “development alumni constituency.”

The database brought together information about corporate donors, including their addresses, giving histories, names of executives that had dealt with the university in the past, any partnerships the company might have with the university, proposed requests, outstanding requests, the results of previous requests, hiring and internship ties with the university, and company policy guidelines.

The database information comes from the fundraising offices in the Michigan system. Those signing up to use the system must sign a pledge to send in all of their own information and contact reports.

In addition to the database, the Web site also contains university policies, industry news and connections to the University of Michigan Research Web site and to government resources such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

Three people developed the Web site, which cost a total of $25,000 in 1998. 

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