5 Ways to Evaluate a New Fundraising Platform for Your School

Don’t let legacy fundraising technology prevent your institution from realizing its revenue potential

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A legacy platform is one based on outdated or obsolete technology. It probably still meets the needs it was originally designed for (20+ years ago), but it doesn’t allow for growth. And, that poses a unique challenge for advancement teams because:

1. The needs that your online fundraising platform was originally designed to address were likely never yours to begin with; and

2. The world of online fundraising has grown exponentially over the last two decades. In fact, it’s grown leaps and bounds in just the last two years since the pandemic hit.

Put another way, if you’re using old-school tools originally built for purposes other than fundraising, and built by and for people who never worked in educational philanthropy, chances are these tools are preventing your institution from realizing its current and future fundraising potential. And tacking new technology onto an old platform is not the answer.

What happens when a provider connects new tech to a core product that’s past its prime?

Attaching new parts to an old framework rarely produces a seamless solution. In some cases, you can all but see the stitches. More often than not, you end up with a clumsy, unpredictable, monster of a platform that might be okay sometimes, until … the day that it’s not. And, hopefully that day doesn’t fall on your annual giving day or in the midst of fiscal year end when you have other fires to put out.

The Frankenstein approach to innovation often produces a product that’s ugly, unstable, and hard to control. There’s usually only a handful of people who know how to interact with it (admins, we see you), and everybody else recoils in fear.

Unfortunately, schools that were early tech adopters and implemented the very first wave of online “fundraising” solutions, may today find themselves tethered to a platform with clunky workflows, awkward system integrations, and a frustrating user experience. It all adds up to more work for everyone involved and yields fundraising results that can’t help but fall short of their goals. If this sounds at all familiar, it’s time to move on, and here’s how:

1. Look for a provider that innovates from scratch

When evaluating fundraising platforms for your school, look for a provider that innovates from the ground up. Notice that we said, “ground” and not “dirt.” Some providers may be okay with digging up a nearly dead solution, dusting it off, and attaching new features. Not GiveCampus.

We built our fundraising technology for schools from scratch: fresh platform, seamless integrations, and a gorgeous interface (no awkwardly protruding neck bolts of any sort). Best of all, we never have to go back to the drawing board, because we never really leave it. We actually have an entire team focused on innovating. It’s what they do—day in and day out, and it’s how we’ve been able to launch at least one major new product each year.

One of our company’s core values is to “talk—and listen—to your users.” That means we cultivate tight feedback loops with our Partners and end users, routinely asking, ‘What do you want?, What do you need?, and How can we make you happier?’ And then, we iterate like crazy based on what we hear. The results speak for themselves:

  • More than 90 percent of GiveCampus partners have tried a digital fundraising platform from another provider before switching to GiveCampus
  • Schools that partner with GiveCampus for online giving see an average uptick of 18 percent in annual growth
  • A partner at Hawken School recently commented on our latest email integration saying, “You should always know that GiveCampus is fundraising for 2032, not 2022.”

2. Ask if the interface uses a mobile-first design

Mobile friendly is an add-on, mobile first is innovative. Rather than simply retrofitting legacy applications to work on a mobile device, we recently upgraded our entire online giving experience to be mobile first. It required some tradeoffs, but since more than half of all donors arrive at an online giving form from their smartphone, it was the right call.

And, we’re not done. Our team of engineers continuously iterates, analyzes, and optimizes form performance in an effort to make the online giving process easier and the overall donor experience more delightful. We rigorously A/B test and fine-tune page designs, buttons, checkboxes, and more in an attempt to shave precious seconds off the process and effectively grease the wheels of giving.

3. Make sure the fundraising platform accepts digital wallets

Our mobile-first design also integrates seamlessly with mobile payment services, giving donors more ways to pay and administrators fewer headaches in the process. In fact, GiveCampus is the only online fundraising platform for schools that has native support for all digital wallets—including PayPal, Venmo, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. We also support more than 80 cryptocurrencies.

4. Find out if it plays well with other tools in your tech stack

GiveCampus recently introduced integrations with two popular email marketing tools: MyEmma and Constant Contact. We heard from advancement teams that removing donors from email lists and stewarding donors quickly—especially while in the midst of big solicitations—was a common pain point.

Rather than trying to quickly cobble together a rudimentary email solution to try to capture more wallet share, we took the long view and decided to integrate with fellow innovators. Now GiveCampus users (we call them Partners) can seamlessly sync what they’re doing in GiveCampus with what they’re already doing on the marketing side. This new integration allows administrators to more easily and quickly send out targeted emails without spamming donors who have already given. Keeping donor lists up-to-date has never been easier.

5. Ask about the science behind the design

We don’t just build, launch, and hope for the best. We take a scientific approach to platform changes and continuously iterate based on what we see in the fundraising data from the more than 1,000 colleges, universities, and K12 schools we serve. That means schools that use the GiveCampus fundraising platform not only get the benefit of continuous innovation within our product, but they also get the learnings that come from the vast pool of data we process and analyze on a regular basis. We learn from every trackable online engagement and apply what we learn to continually improve fundraising outcomes for schools.

We also design our donor interface based on principles of behavioral science that take into account the myriad mental shortcuts that guide human decision-making. That means our Giving Forms are expressly designed to appeal to donors and make it easy and joyful for them to give. Today, we’ve all come to expect a fast and frictionless online checkout experience—and your constituents are no different. You can read more about the science (and math) behind the GiveCampus donor experience in our Savvy Fundraiser’s guide to Getting More Online Donors Across the Finish Line.

Summary

If you’re in the process of evaluating online fundraising platforms for your school and are interested in seeing a solution built by and for educational fundraisers like you, let one of our fundraising experts walk you through the GiveCampus platform. Book a no-pressure demo with someone who understands your needs and shares your goals.

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