St. John Fisher University exceeds giving goals and raises $102M with the help of AI fundraising tools

Alumni fundraising

Key stats

  • $102m raised for annual fund, over a year ahead of schedule
  • 66% of all unrestricted fundraising dollars through the annual fund raised by ambassadors, engaged with through Gravyty’s AI tool
  • 91% growth rate in ambassador program membership

About St. John Fisher University

St. John Fisher University is an independent, liberal arts institution in the Catholic tradition of American higher education. Located in Pittsford, NY, Fisher emphasizes the liberal arts, offering programs in traditional academic disciplines as well as more directly career-oriented fields. Fisher is home to nearly 2,600 undergraduate students from all over the United States.

The challenge: Empower fundraisers to engage with their portfolio despite limited resources and headcount

With charitable giving on the decline and 50 percent of fundraising teams missing their goals last year (Donor engagement benchmark report, Gravyty, 2024), higher education fundraisers are adapting and innovating to reach donors in a meaningful way. AI fundraising tools provide an opportunity to enhance productivity and efficiency, even with a small team.

Consistently reaching alumni when plagued with staff turnover, shifting philanthropic cultures, and unreliable data was a notable challenge St. John Fisher advancement leaders faced when running individual giving campaigns. Despite these challenges, fundraisers were tasked with growing campaign engagement and hitting aggressive giving goals.

The solution: Supercharge donor outreach with AI tools to hit annual giving and fundraiser portfolio goals

For the advancement team at St. John Fisher, tapping into the power of AI to reach more donors at the right time was the key to higher productivity. They leveraged Gravyty’s AI fundraising tool to reduce administrative tasks for gift officers, freeing up time in their days to connect more meaningfully with the right donors.

Their ambassador program, the Spire Society, is a major focus for the advancement team. The Spire Society saw a remarkable 91% growth rate in membership since its launch in 2018. With growth driven by Gravyty’s AI fundraising solution, Spire Society’s 243 members account for 66% of all unrestricted fundraising dollars through the annual fund.

“The high level of commitment underscores our member’s unwavering dedication and ensures our ability to navigate toward future successes strategically driven by hardworking gift officers and Gravyty.”

Chris Biehn
Vice President for Institutional Advancement, St. John Fisher University

The outcome

Gravyty fundraising tools enabled the fundraising team at St. John Fisher to uplevel their individual giving programs and equip their small teams to reach more donors and exceed fundraising goals. 

With a target end of 2025, the St. John Fisher annual fund campaign has already surpassed their $100m goal, hitting $102m in December 2023. While the organizations chose to tackle the issue of increasing donations in a challenging market in separate ways, both were successful in their efforts by pairing the right solution with their goals.

Solution spotlight

Gravyty’s AI-powered fundraising solution helps fundraisers 4x their donor outreach, significantly improving outcomes. Create a sustainable, scalable pipeline through AI-powered donor discovery, integrated digital giving data, portfolio saturation and omnichannel donor outreach. Reach the right people at the right time with smart prompts, video messaging, and donor communications that write themselves.

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