North Central University Streamlined it's Internal Teams and Raised 2.5x more in Funding

Learn how Virtuous helped North Central University increase giving by 12% year-over-year

Students walking across a street
North Central University is a Christian university in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with a Bible-based and Pentecostal foundation and a commitment to academic excellence. North Central prepares students to fulfill biblical models of leadership and ministry throughout the world.

The Challenge

Limited Access to Data

North Central University (NCU) found their previous CRM was riddled with manual processes and created data silos that were felt across the organization. 

When David Duxbury, Associate Director of Advancement joined NCU, their Advancement department only had a singular team member that was a dedicated user of their previous CRM, Raiser’s Edge NXT and Raiser’s Edge Database View. Having one person who intimately knew how to use the platform created a bottleneck for many of the Advancement team’s needs. 

“All of the queries, all of the emails, anything that had to do with data was done by one person in terms of getting the data out. A lot of the donor contacts were built into NXT but we needed a more user-friendly option to get onboarding faster, especially as new folks were coming in, myself included, and we needed something that wasn’t so clunky.”

Expansive Tech Stack and Manual Processes

Additionally, their Advancement and Marketing departments were using a variety of tools in their technology stack to accomplish simple tasks that were not possible in Raiser’s Edge – compounding the inability to quickly access important donor data. 

“There were so many manual processes like receipting. For example, our administrative assistant was spending, conservatively, 3-5 hours a week manually typing in names and donation amounts into a template and sending them out via mail.”

NCU needed a software partner that would enable them to have full visibility into their donor data, connect more readily with their loyal donor base, and the ability to access data they needed immediately and in a very simple way. 

How We Helped

Consolidated Systems and Streamlined Marketing

Since joining Virtuous, NCU has seen instant relief in internal roadblocks and silos.  “We needed something more user-friendly, something a little more comprehensive because a lot of our marketing was determined by our marketing team – it was almost like outsourcing our Advancement marketing to somebody else,” said David. 

Now, through Virtuous’ powerful email marketing tools, David’s team can streamline their marketing efforts and create impactful content for their supporters without the need for constant back-and-forth communication between teams.

“Now emails are sent to myself and our VP, and then we look at it and say, all right, let’s change that phrasing. Let’s change this. Boom, boom, boom. When do you want to send it? Boom. Done. They produce the content, we make the edits, and there’s no going back and forth anymore. It’s just one single, here you go, make the edits you need. We trust you. It’s been just wildly faster and we get better quality work that way too, and comprehensively for our whole university.”

Deeper Supporter Relationships

Prior to switching to Virtuous, many of North Central University’s emails were impersonal and unsegmented. Now, NCU supporters now receive a more personalized and curated experience. When they receive an email from the Advancement team, it’s written specifically to the receiver and not to a mass audience. Their efforts are having a direct impact on their year-over-year giving – giving is up 12.1% this year

“The personalization that Virtuous brought, along with the visual appeal in terms of emails, it didn’t just change the game for email and letters on demand, and all of that. We think of fundraising differently now, in terms of personalized touch everywhere we go. And so now that we’re not spending as much time doing the manual processes and can connect more with our donors”

David Duxbury, Associate Director of Advancement

By implementing a more personalized approach, combined with expressing gratitude for their support, NCU was able to raise 2.5 times more in funding at their annual fundraising gala than last year’s gala. 

“I think that’s a testament to the element of personalization and segmented marketing, along with using Virtuous. Yes, it’s a CRM, it’s a tool, but the philosophy of responsive fundraising really bled into our own efforts and what I’m doing too.”

The Power of Listening

Listening is a core piece of Responsive Fundraising and NCU is certainly leaning into their donors to truly serve them the best way possible. In the two years since implementing Virtuous, NCU now has a dedicated group of donors who are willing to participate in a focus group to provide real-time, valuable feedback on their fundraising efforts, and can make those changes immediately. 

“[With our] focus groups, where people are like, ‘hey, we feel like the automated stuff that we get is great, but we’d love a more personalized touch’. We can respond back and say, ‘Okay, we hear you, now we’re going to deliver on that.’ And then when the feedback comes back, ‘I noticed that email that was hyper-personalized. Thank you for listening to me.’ Our donors do notice.”

Powerful Integration with Classy

In addition to Virtuous, NCU integrates its fundraising data with Classy, doubling its efforts to empower their fundraising efforts. Previously, when using Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge, importing gifts would take their team hours of time with manual processes – which slowed down the acknowledgment process. 

Classy has made it so simple for our online givers and recurring gifts. Now when I go in to do the imports, it’s such an easy import. They’ve really made online giving really easy for us, and we’ve seen an increase in donor involvement that way. Classy has also been great for our crowdfunding campaigns too,” says David. 

During their last annual gala, NCU was able to leverage Virtuous and the Classy integration to see a more holistic view of their donor’s giving and track to the dollar how much was raised for their Partners for Progress program. 

“We used Classy to create a campaign specifically for that gala and created a marketing segment in Virtuous, so that way every single gift that came in, in that specific campaign, was tagged with the marketing segment for Partners for Progress. We’ve never been able to say dollar for dollar what came in as a result of Partners for Progress, and now we have an answer for that, because of Virtuous and Classy.”

Training and Support

One of the challenges with changing any technology is adopting a new platform and having a supportive training system. With Virtuous Academy, David’s team was able to quickly onboard to Virtuous and get started fundraising with minimal downtime. 

Now when a new team member joins their department, they can focus on specific areas covered by Virtuous Academy, and enable other departments to learn how Virtuous works. “The Virtuous Academy changed everything for us. Now we don’t have just one specialized person for all things CRM – everyone can access it.”

Not only has the Academy increased access to using Virtuous, it helps save valuable time by troubleshooting questions or issues the staff is encountering on a daily basis. Recently, an Administrative Assistant required help solving an issue with Receipting. Rather than spend hours emailing back and forth, or time in meetings, they were able to revisit the Receipting training videos and solve the issue at hand. 

Additionally, NCU feels supported in their questions beyond what can be answered in the Virtuous Academy videos. 

“I rave about this all the time, is every person I’ve talked to at Virtuous, from our account manager, to account executives, to anybody doing data migration, the support tickets I’ve put in, it’s all been timely and it’s all been good. I haven’t had one poor experience with anyone at Virtuous. You guys do what you say you will do.”

David Duxbury, Associate Director of Advancement
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Grow generosity with Virtuous.

Virtuous is the responsive fundraising software platform proven to help nonprofit organizations increase generosity by serving all donors personally, no matter their gift size.

“Virtuous truly understands nonprofits and the importance of our mission. And their open access to data and built-in custom reports gave us access to the data we need.”
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