Missouri-based Ozark Christian College had raised as much general gift income in the first six months of 2005 as it had raised in all of 2003.
Anya Ansley gives a good portion of the credit to a new way of approaching donors through eTapestry, the college’s Web-based donor management system.
Ansley personalized envelopes and letters and swapped the traditional “Dear Christian Friend” salutation with the prospective or past donor’s name for the first mass mailing she coordinated in her new job as the college’s Stewardship Department administrative assistant in 2004.
“We saw our response rate go up dramatically,” Ansley said. Donors have specifically noted that they liked the fact that their letters were personalized.
This tactic, which she accomplished by merging the college’s eTapestry database into a Word document, led to other changes in communicating with the college’s donors.
Using eTapestry’s advanced e-mail tool, the college began producing an e-newsletter that provided links allowing alumni and donors to update their own contact information.
“A lot our alumni are on the move, especially the first 10 years after college, so it’s been helpful to keep up with all the address changes,” Ansley said.
Ozark Christian College’s mission is to train men and women for Christian service through an undergraduate Bible college education. Alumni serve throughout the United States and in 40 countries worldwide.
The college’s e-newsletter, distributed through eTapestry, helped the college keep in touch with its graduates, many of whom leave the school to become missionaries in rural communities that do not have regular access to mail.
“They may not be able to get the quarterly print newsletter, but alumni will travel to a big city every couple of weeks and get their e-mail,” Ansley said.
This more timely access made a huge difference when the college announced that Ken Idleman, president of Ozark Christian College for 26 years, was retiring. The college had set up a fund in Idleman’s name. Ansley credits the immediate outpouring of giving to alumni who were in better contact with the college.
Ansley also has been using eTapestry to pull capital campaign reports on who gives at what level.
“We started realizing the more you put into eTapestry, the more you get out of it,” Ansley said. “The more information you have on a donor in the beginning, the more you can do later.”
Ansley pulls reports every day and provides them to top-level administrators to review.
“The reports are just so easy and it’s not brain surgery to figure out how to do something,” she said.
Because of eTapestry’s remote accessibility, Gordon Venturella, former Ozark fundraising director who now serves as a consultant to the college, has been able to assist Ansley from his office in Chicago.
Venturella said he brought eTapestry to the college in 2002 as part of an effort to replace an old mainframe computer.
“I was not going to go through the work of a capital campaign and not have a place to record it electronically,” he said. “We needed an economic and easy-to-use solution and eTapestry turned out to be both.”
Today, the college stores about 6,000 donor records in eTapestry.
“I have the satisfaction of knowing that others who come after me have a much better foundation to work from because of eTapestry,” he said.
Venturella, who has used a variety of donor management systems, said eTapestry stands out for its ease of use and convenience.
“eTapestry is very intuitive,” Venturella said. “It has a great value to someone like me who is not particularly a techie and doesn’t have the time or the interest to go to a lot of training just to get it to do what I want to do.”
Ozark Christian College is located in Joplin, MO. To learn more visit www.occ.edu.