Tracking graduated students and donors with PeopleSoft Contributor Relations

By Andrew Collins
Tuesday, 11 September, 2012

The University of Ballarat (UB) has implemented a new system to help manage its alumni and its fundraising activities. The PeopleSoft solution, implemented with help from ASG Group, has revealed 95,000 previously unidentified graduates from the university.

Until recently, the university was using an archaic system to keep track of its alumni.

“We recorded all of our alumni details in spreadsheets, and that was the extent of our system,” said Michelle Nunn, Project Manager at the University of Ballarat.

The data gathering method - which involved a series of voluntary forms on graduation day - also meant the school wasn’t accurately identifying all of its graduates as alumni.

As part of a strategic plan formed in 2007, UB wanted to create an alumni community using these records as a basis. The school also wanted to clean up its donor tracking system, which, like the alumni records, existed as spreadsheets.

“We didn’t have a really good way of interrogating our data, to see who are our top donors, do we have somebody who’s donating every month,” Nunn said.

To help with both of these problems, the university implemented Contributor Relations from PeopleSoft, in part because of its ability to integrate with the vendor’s student management system, Campus Solutions.

“In 2008 we implemented Campus Solutions as our student management system, so it just seemed logical that we’d use Contributor Relations as well, because then we’ve got complete access to all of that graduate data … and it can accurately identify who is really supposed to be an alum,” Nunn said.

When the university selected Contributor Relations, there was no local knowledge of that specific product, Nunn said. The school hired technology services company ASG Group for functional consulting and technical development, on the basis of the company’s general understanding of PeopleSoft products.

Before implementing the new system, the university had around 5000 alumni in its spreadsheet-based system. The new system automatically identified graduates from the student management system and classified them as alumni.

“We went from 5000 alums to over 100,000 overnight,” Nunn said.

But the contact details for many alumni were old. The school hired a marketing company to promote the new system in social media and local newspapers, directing past graduates to contact the University of Ballarat in order to update their personal details.

“We really reached and touched the community by doing that sort of a marketing campaign,” Nunn said.

The university now gives students access to the system around the time of graduation, allowing them to update their own contact details, their employment status, their interests and so on. This allows the school to, for example, notify students of new courses they may be interested in, inform them of alumni benefits and send them newsletters.

The system also allows the university to track the threads of specific donations, providing analytics like how long it took to get to the point of donation, whether invitations to specific events were useful or whether it took a visit from the Vice-Chancellor to seal the deal.

“We’re able to quickly see that this person’s interested in animals or a supporter of environmental sustainability … so when you go out to talk to them, you know to take along the UB environmental sustainability plan,” Nunn said.

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