AI + donor discovery

NYU’s experiences using Raise from Gravyty

About NYU

New York University (NYU) is a highly-ranked private research university in New York City comprising ten undergraduate schools, 15 graduate schools, and a range of internal academic centers. NYU also has campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai and several academic centers worldwide.

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AI + donor discovery

The challenge: Donor discovery at scale

NYU’s advancement team manages 30% of its 600,000-strong alumni pool. But NYU leadership saw an opportunity in the remaining 70% of their discovery and qualification stages. From prospect to donor, the most donor-centric journey is through personal engagement. 

The challenge NYU’s Development and Alumni Relations Office faced was how to maximize the team’s efforts and ensure that donor touchpoints would have the most impact. In addition, they needed a faster, more efficient way to qualify new donors and place them appropriately in the giving pyramid.

Most fundraisers hate doing cold outreach. It’s the slog of the job! Raise from Gravyty allows us to reduce that burden and concentrate more on the work we love—getting to know our donor community, learning their passions and helping them make an impact where it matters to them.

Natalie Kimball Tessoun, Senior Director of Development, Major Gifts

The solution: Raise from Gravyty for donor discovery

Artificial intelligence (AI) enables computers to mimic human intelligence and carry out complex thinking or decision-making much like a human would—only faster and usually with fewer errors. Raise from Gravyty’s patented AI solution processes what a fundraiser needs to know about a prospect or donor, prioritizes when contact should occur, and self-writes the first draft email or message for the fundraiser or user to personalize and execute.

By elevating NYU’s CRM data by using Raise, the team was able to create donor pools based on demographic and giving behaviors. This output segmentation enables their team to focus on the best prospects, drastically improving qualification rate, moves management and revenue secured. 

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AI + donor discovery

Raise in action

Data-centric approach

Focusing on Leadership Annual Giving, NYU’s used capacity and affinity as selection criteria, putting 500,000 alumni through three different wealth and donor screening solutions, looking for the following criteria:

  • Capacity—Using the potential donor’s means and former giving behavior to predict future giving.
  • Affinity—Looking at previous donation history, memberships, societies, social media communications, and more to determine areas of interest and affinities. 

From these results, NYU created prospect or discovery portfolios. Fundraisers used Raise to make 2,000 strategic touchpoints to qualify or disqualify prospects, expediting who to talk to and how to connect with prospective donors. 

Donor requalifitcation + reengagement with Raise

Like many in the industry, NYU’s fundraising team is quasi-decentralized. As a result, many gift officers knew that their assigned donors were no longer interested in donating to their previous fund designation. Using Raise, NYU wanted to reengage donors to determine additional passion areas to continue and increase giving and engagement

Giving Day

Increase donors secured and dollars raised on Giving Day by using Raise to generate personalized messages to select donors and prospects. This approach contrasted with the typical blast or semi-segmented communication that prospects previously received. 

The team targeted previous Giving Day donors, previous fiscal year donors who had not donated yet in the fiscal year, and other segments. The strategy also increased collaboration, especially among major gift officers.

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AI + donor discovery

Raise’s impact on the entire pipeline

The NYU fundraising team noted that the solution should also be applied to all aspects of a division where personal messaging is needed—specifically using it in stewardship, phonathon, event engagement and communicating other messages at scale with donors.

The more experience we get using AI in fundraising, the more ideas we get. There is so much scope for AI. We are just getting started at NYU.

Natalie Kimball Tessoun

Learn more about how Raise from Gravyty and AI can transform your fundraising by expanding your workforce and building your major gift pipeline. Book your free consultation.