At Converse College, a private women’s university in Spartanburg, South Carolina, ad hoc reporting is the difference between an antiquated endowment program and one that will sustain the school’s scholarship program by appealing to modern philanthropists.
As endowment donors become increasingly motivated by data on their gifts’ impact, educational institutions like Converse have had to upgrade their reporting software to meet these expectations. Where past donors might have been satisfied to know what program or project they helped fund, today’s philanthropists prefer a full accounting of the endowment’s health and impact. Most institutions have only modest endowments, but even these offer “stability, flexibility, and a degree of confidence for the future,” according to the American Council on Education.
For Converse, the financial security afforded by their endowment program was well worth a software upgrade. The college’s Advancement Services department uses DonorPerfect to track and manage all of the college’s incoming gifts, but its canned reports don’t satisfy their endowment reporting needs. Since DonorPerfect also serves churches, hospitals, land trusts, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and just about every other type of non-profit organization there is, its stock reports must broadly apply to any fundraising context.
To meet its unique endowment reporting requirements, Converse upgraded its DonorPerfect subscription to include the application’s Smart Analytics ad hoc reporting suite. “The initial investment of time to learn Smart Analytics will help us write custom, detailed reports to meet the long-term needs of the college,” explains Director of Advancement Services Lisa Marchi.
“The gift of education transforms people’s lives, and we can use ad hoc reporting to tell that data story.”
The university maintains a dozen different endowments, but Marchi says ad hoc reports are particularly essential to their scholarship funds. “We feel it’s important for endowment donors to know about the individual students their gifts are benefiting,” explains Marchi. DonorPerfect’s ad hoc reporting tools enable her team to update donors on their beneficiaries’ academic journeys — “what they’re majoring in, how they’re performing, what their future plans are, and so on” — without the hazards of manual data analysis or waiting for help from IT.
“The gift of education transforms people’s lives,” says Marchi, “and we can use ad hoc reporting to tell that data story.”
Advancement Services needs ad hoc reporting to tell the less emotional side of endowment gifts as well. Marchi describes a multi-layered approach that involves merging “donor information, scholarships/endowments descriptions, financials (such as corpus and balance as of end-of-fiscal year), and student recipients” into one comprehensive report. The work of retrieving and compiling all this information from various database tables rendered ad hoc reporting a necessity.
One of the lesser-known benefits of ad hoc reporting technology is that even a single report author can have a profound impact on his or her institution. Once built, they can be run again and again by anyone with access, each time pulling up-to-date information from the database(s) in question. In the case of Smart Analytics, they may also be duplicated and edited by those with the appropriate credentials, opening up the possibility for reports to be iterated on as the institution’s needs evolve. Even if Marchi becomes her department’s only ad hoc report author, the college, its philanthropists, and the students they support will all benefit for years to come.