United World Colleges – USA

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K-12 Schools
North America

Using Smart Segmentation to Stay Engaged with Alumni

Nearly 80% of students at United World Colleges-USA rely on scholarships, and a team of three fundraisers needs the right tools in place to reach an annual $2 million goal.

A young refugee addressed his fellow students at United World Colleges’ campus in New Mexico on #GivingTuesday in 2017. “I’m here because people give,” he shared.

United World Colleges (UWC)—a global education movement that operates 17 schools across four continents—opened its first campus in Wales during the Cold War to bring together young people from different nations in an environment of collaboration and understanding. Decades later and an ocean away, this one student’s appeal drove hundreds of teenagers—nearly all on financial assistance themselves—to their computers to donate.

Providing education, room, and board for a single student costs UWC-USA over $50,000 each year, and although an endowment subsidizes the cost, a small but mighty team of three fundraisers must hit a $2 million annual goal.

As the director of alumni engagement and giving, Jose Pablo Rojas-Brewer, put it: “The stakes are high.”

UWC-USA partners with Blackbaud so that every interaction with alumni, donors, and prospects makes the most impact, seamlessly. That day alone, with one student’s testimonial and the appropriate technology in place, UWC-USA raised $27,000. A whopping 43% of current students contributed to the campaign.

“I think our two missions could not be more aligned,” Rojas-Brewer said. “Blackbaud helps us do good, and we do good by having the right solutions in place.”

Working Smarter for Personalized Outreach

Nearly 80% of students at UWC-USA, which first partnered with Blackbaud in 1993, rely on scholarships, most for their full expenses. With more than 60,000 UWC alumni scattered across the world, UWC representatives hit the road each year. They visit key cities to meet alumni in person and share new development in the story of their alma mater.

With Blackbaud’s flagship fundraising solution Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT®, UWC fundraisers can make the most of every trip and every conversation. “When we create profiles for students, we note relationships,” Rojas-Brewer said. “We record what dorm they live in, their resident tutor, their scholarship funding. Those become the right points to cultivate relationships when the students become alumni.”

With those details noted in Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT, Rojas-Brewer can segment appeals based not only on geography, but also experiences and interests. “Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT is as good as the information that goes in,” he said, “so we find that we’re logging a lot of actions and notes to use in the future.”

Raising More Dollars, Providing More Scholarships

Rojas-Brewer, a UWC alumnus himself, began his career in engagement with the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. When presented with the opportunity to co-lead UWC-USA’s fundraising ventures, Rojas-Brewer agreed to take the helm—but only if he could keep growing alumni engagement as well.

His first step was getting rid of an expensive third-party email provider and using Blackbaud Online Express™, which integrates with Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT at no extra cost. “The transition was smooth and didn’t change the look of our emails,” Rojas-Brewer said.

He and his colleagues pride themselves on an above-industry-standard newsletter open rate. With Blackbaud Online Express, they can evaluate what content resonates the most after each edition and trust mobile-friendly delivery to reach people on the go.

For UWC-USA, fundraising agility translates to more gifts. Approaching every event as an opportunity to push toward their goal, Rojas-Brewer and his colleagues use Blackbaud MobilePay™ to convert their cell phones into virtual credit card terminals—making it simple to accept donations on the spot, at any time.

“Blackbaud has grown to include so many products that it has seamless functionality,” Rojas-Brewer said. “And by keeping everything integrated, we have more reliable data.” For his school, that means more personalized communications and a stronger strategy to propel UWC-USA forward for decades to come.

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United World Colleges - USA
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