CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Facing communications challenges similar to those at many large nonprofits, Indiana University aims to better coordinate its decentralized communications and fundraising operations.
To help do that, the school has turned to Charlotte-based Donor2 and its’ parent company, Campus Management Corp. in Boca Raton, Fla.
In what is believed to be the first effort ever by a major university to move toward a system-wide communications platform, Indiana this summer signed a six-year agreement with Campus Management.
The multi-million-dollar agreement calls for setting up the new “lifetime communications” system in two phases, first by coordinating university-wide communications, and then by coordinating university-wide management of donor data, says Brad Wheeler, the university’s vice president for information technology and chief information officer.
“Like everybody else, we were just seeing a proliferation in ways people were contacting stakeholders of Indiana University,” Wheeler says.
One distinguished alumni, for example, told the school he received a communication from it nearly every day, Wheeler says.
“We needed a more sophisticated way,” he says, “for individuals to tell IU what they wanted to hear about, and when and in what format.”
Traditionally, admissions offices at large universities typically purchased software for recruiting purposes, while fundraising offices typically purchased software to track donors, and both types of offices then looked separately for ways to communicate with students, respectively, after they enrolled and graduated.
To eliminate trying to cobble together those “two silos” of admissions and fundraising, Wheeler says, the university’s agreement with Campus Management aims to integrate the management of relationships – with constituents ranging from prospective students to alumni and donors — and the management of donor data.
Indiana, with eight campuses and over 500,000 living alumni, says it is the first major, multi-campus university in the United States to put its communications with constituents on a “university-wide platform” that includes all its schools, as well as its alumni association and its foundation.
Donor2, which grew out of a Charlotte fundraising-software firm known as Systems Support Services that two entrepreneurs formed in 1984, has 24 employees in Charlotte and accounts for less than 10 percent of annual revenue for Campus Management, which is privately held.
Campus Management, which sells software that colleges and universities use to manage student information across their entire systems, known as “enterprise” software, purchased the company in 2005.
Three years later, Campus Management purchased assets of Talisma Corp., a company that provided constituent-relationship-management software.
Indiana University has begun converting its Indianapolis campus, which already uses Talisma software for admissions, to Campus Management’s latest version of that product.
Wheeler says the school will be working closely with Campus Management and Donor2 on the design and functionality of the communications and donor-data aspects of the new system.
Aiming to develop a life-long relationship with its students and keep them involved in its programs and activities after they graduate, Indiana plans to use the new system to communicate with and keep track of them andtheir level of engagement in the school.