ASU Enterprise Partners was awarded the Dave Perry Excellence in Innovation Award by Salesforce.org for being a trailblazer that uses technology in an unconventional way to enhance the donor experience.
ASU Enterprise Partners, parent organization to the ASU Foundation for a New American University, was recognized for implementing Salesforce’s Commerce Cloud e-commerce technology on the ASU Foundation website. The award was announced virtually during Salesforce’s eighth annual Higher Education Summit. The Dave Perry Excellence in Innovation Award recognizes a college or university that uses Salesforce to advance recruiting, student success, advancement, marketing or engagement. It is named after a Salesforce employee who was integral in higher education data architecture and passed away in 2017.
“What was innovative is we’re the first higher education nonprofit to implement the Commerce Cloud for online giving,” said Zach Lisi, director of solutions development for ASU Enterprise Partners and an integral part of the multidisciplinary team that implemented Commerce Cloud. “The old platform was very basic. We wanted to give donors the ability to go to the ASU Foundation website and do research, look up funds, learn about those funds and see the impact of how they affect students directly.”
Not only was the nonprofit the first to use a platform that is commonly used among online retailers, but the implementation team transitioned the ASU Foundation giving experience on a very aggressive timeline.
ASU Enterprise Partners worked with a seasoned partner to implement the platform and was told such implementations typically take a year, but some companies have implemented Commerce Cloud in six months, Lisi said.
ASU Enterprise Partners implemented the platform in just 12 weeks.
“They were very skeptical. We made it happen,” Lisi said.
Other ASU Enterprise Partners implementation team members included Melissa Bordow, Jana Brown, Andrew Carey, Anna Consie, Jorge De Cossio, Chris Dizon, Carey Fredlake, Melissa Kwilosz, Liz Levenson, Gabe Martinez, Lauren Mitchell, Blake Pappas, Erin Sherman, Debbie Williams and Serah Ye.
Commerce Cloud enables donors to search by cause instead of fund name, similar to how a consumer searches for an article of clothing from their favorite online retailers.
The e-commerce experience allows each of the nearly 600 fund pages to provide a visual representation of the fund through videos and photos, stories about what the fund is intended to do and the impact the donor can make through the fund, said Fredlake, director of strategic outreach for ASU Enterprise Partners.
If a donor is interested in funds related to COVID-19 research, they can search for that interest and learn more about funds focused on that cause, Lisi said.
“People aren’t necessarily donating to a school they are an alumni of,” he said. “People want to give money to things they’re passionate about.”
Commerce Cloud reduced the time it takes a donor to donate and the additional visuals and information led to a 25% increase in gift amount, Fredlake said, adding that there has also been an increase in conversion rates compared to nonprofit industry benchmarks.
ASU Enterprise Partners has used the Salesforce customer relationship management platform for a few years and recently added Salesforce’s gift processing tools.
“We’re just starting the journey of what this can turn into,” Lisi said of the potential for the Commerce Cloud platform in the future.
It could become a donor portal to see giving history and provide endowed scholarship reports and donation tax documents, he said, adding that it could also be used to sign up people for volunteer and mentor opportunities at ASU.
The foundation can provide a more targeted and personalized experience to donors between Commerce Cloud and Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud.
“Commerce Cloud is a robust tool in our toolbox, which has provided a streamlined, storytelling focused donation experience,” Fredlake said. “It has become a natural extension to the stories shared through our donor journeys.”
Other higher education foundations have reached out to ASU Enterprise Partners to learn more about the possibilities because of its success, Lisi said.
“It was a big effort, it was a big team, it took a lot of resources and dedication,” he said. “We should all be very proud of what we accomplished.”
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