The UConn Foundation acts as the University of Connecticut’s primary source of fundraising by providing programming and services for alumni and supporters. The private gifts and financial resources support the university’s mission and enhance teaching, research, and public services. The foundation originally had three separate sites for online giving, alumni resources, and their blog.
The new UConn Foundation website needed to efficiently combine these three platforms into one mega site. In order to optimize their donations and event management, they needed a fully integrated website stack including WordPress for content management; WooCommerce and Network for Good for online donations; Aventri for event management; Stripe as a payment gateway; MailChimp; Mandril; and custom BBCRM database syncs. Vital designed and developed this powerhouse website with a strong focus on improving user experience and engaging potential donors in the giving process.
The UConn Foundation partnered with Vital not just because of our ability to provide high-level website customization and integration, but also our comprehensive, collaborative approach to fully understanding their project.
We always conduct an extensive discovery process to evaluate our clients’ needs. However, we adapted this process to suit their extensive technologies. We traveled to the client for three full days of on-site discovery, first, with the technical team to go over each platform; then, with the design team to address user experience and site mapping; and finally, with leadership to go over goals and objectives. This project’s success was largely due to the time we took to conduct research, access each platform, write technical specs, troubleshoot, and gain approval before developing and implementing our recommendations.
We always bring digital marketing best practices to the table, but our backend donor management innovations helped bring the UConn Foundation’s new website over the finish line.
From a technical perspective, we worked hard to integrate the entire technology stack with their CRM, Blackbaud. Since their previous platforms fell short, we addressed a lot of intricacies regarding donations on both the backend and frontend of the website.
We wrote an API (application programming interface) that tapped into their database and pulled information regarding each of the donation funds. Originally, there was a list of over 50,000 different funds to which users could donate; paring that primary list down to several hundred became much more manageable. The API was designed to call data from their CRM and then synch to the live site.
On the frontend, we customized the functionality of the platform to fit different donors, including personalized messaging and the addition of write-in donation amounts. The UConn Foundation’s goal was to move away from paper receipts and generate receipts through their online platform. However, this could get tricky. For example, if a donor contributed $500 to the athletics fund, they become eligible for a free sweatshirt. The receipts needed to reflect the donation amount minus the cost of the sweatshirt for accurate itemized deductions. Our troubleshooting process led to significant upgrades in their online receipting process.
Working with the UConn Foundation was unique since they’re a very technically sophisticated client; our process was less about educating them on best practices and more about collaborating and leveraging our digital marketing expertise to solve their pain points.
Most important was making it as easy as possible for people to support the UConn Foundation’s ongoing good works. The detailed discovery process helped make the user interface intuitive and easy to access; integrating with WooCommerce created a much easier checkout process for users. On the frontend of the website, the donation platform now follows a step-by-step process that makes it simple for users to make a donation. On the backend, we revolutionized the way they process and pull data internally. Now, the UConn Foundation website has proper attribution so that they can accurately manage their donations and reporting.