Events Process

Discovery Sessions

Process Overview

Planning and execution of alumni events begins with individual campuses. Each campus’ Alumni Office controls planning.€™

  1. Campus Alumni Office (Internal)
  2. Central Services/Digital and Strategic Innovation (DSI) Team (Internal)
  3. Central IT Office (Internal)

Planning for events begins with the Alumni Office on individual campuses. Events can be planned well in advance of execution, but sometimes alumni chapters decide to hold events ad hoc. Alumni staff usually use Excel spreadsheets to track elements of planning: budget, timeline, action planning, etc. Some campuses use the project management tool “Monday”. Once plans are set, the Alumni Office submits the ANDI reporting request form to generate an invitee list.

Once the Central IT Office receives this request, they generate a list based on the parameters provided by the Alumni Office and forward the list to the Alumni Office that initiated the request. If the list generated does not meet the requirements for the office, the Alumni Office may adjust the parameters and re-submit the request to the Central IT Office. Other times, the Alumni staff may manually adjust the list in Excel. Additionally, some campuses can generate their own lists if the Central IT Office is overwhelmed with requests.

Once the list is approved, an Alumni Office staff member submits a JotForm tot he DSI team. The DSI team hosts several types of forms and is responsible for creating registration forms and email communications for an event. Completion of the JotForm triggers a Trello card via the Zapier connection of the JotForm and Trello apps. (Trello is a project management tool that the DSI team uses to manage projects, such as email campaigns). Upon creation of a Trello card, all five members of the DSI team are notified. The project is managed by the engagement team member who has the most experience with the campus initiating the request. Once the project is assigned, an event and send date are added to a centralized calendar of upcoming events and campaigns as a placeholder.

A member of the DSI team builds the registration form and email communication, and the requested communication is reviewed internally. Once the registration form and created email are approved by staff, the list of recipients is uploaded, and the email campaign is scheduled to be sent. Some events employ the use of mailed invites; when mailing invites, the list of invitees is sent to a vendor who executes the mailings.

During and after event execution, attendance and fundraising are tracked manually via a spreadsheet. Attendance can be tallied manually or via a QR code (through QFlow). UT Foundation has access to an iModules Check-in App, which is not currently being utilized. Attendance reports are forwarded to the Central IT Office, where they are entered into ANDI to track alumni engagement scores. After events, attendees receive email communications with surveys and event information such as fundraising results, webinar recordings or picture galleries.

CRM event flow


During discussion about the process, several improvement opportunities to address inefficiencies in the current state surfaced:

1. Data Retrieval

  • Data retrieval can be labor and time intensive because adjusting parameters to augment event invitee lists can be a complex process. As an example, generating the football tailgate event invitee list can take the entire summer to complete due to the number of changes that may need to be made before the list is finalized.
  • The complexity in the data retrieval process can force the Central IT Office to make decisions about parameters that should be made by Alumni Office staff.
  • The process of generating lists could be improved with the addition of the ability to see a preview of a list before the list is generated.
  • The data retrieval process would benefit from a simpler reporting tool that would allow Alumni Office staff to easily pull and manipulate lists to their needs.
  • The accuracy of the list depends on the data in ANDI, which sometimes lags due to when updates to student records are added. One result of the lag is an inability to pull an accurate list of alumni until graduates are loaded in July or August.
  • Lists can become outdated by the time event communication is executed because the list information does not represent real-time data
  • Not all data is stored in ANDI; invitee lists can be a compilation of ANDI data, as well as data from other sources or systems.

2. Event/Project Management and Tracking

  • Currently there is no standardized process for planning events, with some planning being managed via Excel spreadsheets and some offices using software, such as “Monday.”
  • Attendance and fundraising are usually tracked manually, via Excel
  • Currently ANDI’s Event Module is used for attendance tracking, which then helps generate alumni engagement scores.
  • The event planning process budgeting, ROI, and other types of event reporting are generated externally using the data from spreadsheets managed manually. System limitations include minimal functionality surrounding package pricing and the difficulty in distinguishing charitable and non-charitable portions of event registrations.
  • The process would benefit from a more robust system for attaching appeal codes and the ability see accounting of all the methods of fundraising (online giving and gifts received in-person) for an event in one place in the system.
  • Guests of attendees are not easily tracked.
  • Tagging/coding events would help in searching for event data within the CRM and would help in building entity interest profiles and generating lists for future events.

3. Reporting, Analytics and Automation

  • Insights might increase alumni engagement if events that might be of interest for an alumni could be suggested to them instead of depending on the scope of list parameters.
  • There is limited reporting around event registrants. It would be helpful for development officers who attend events to receive reports with more robust information about donors prior to the event. Generally, establishing and displaying event metrics is an area of opportunity.
  • The ability to build robust entity profiles especially for VIPs improving on the Entity Profile Report.
    Event planning would be improved with a more robust communication system, including the ability to map communications on a constituent journey and the ability to automate reminder emails and SMS (currently only UT-Knoxville uses text reminders through the Mongoose/Cadence system).
  • Insights/Automated follow-up is an area of opportunity, especially for prospective registrants that abandon registration forms. Follow up on abandoned registration forms is currently a manual process.

Final Summary

The analysis shows that the current process possesses inefficiencies focused on standardization of data retrieval processes, availability of audience information, lack of analytical/reporting functionality, manual event/project management. Standardization and simplification of the data retrieval processes would produce consistency and reliability of data. Currently, queries must be run to generate lists, and there is no way to preview a list before it is generated. The process of running SQL queries makes the current process of generating a list complicated and time-consuming. The ability to preview a list would help save time during the list generation process. In addition, non-alumni donor opportunities are lost because ANDI does not house data on non-alumni donors, and it is difficult to track attendance for guests of alumni.

Additionally, data retrieved for lists lags behind real-time updates made in the system, so that entity information may become obsolete between the time the data is generated and the actual send-date of communications. Having comprehensive, centralized, real-time data in Salesforce will eliminate the time lag that may impact planning timelines and improve the accuracy of lists used in communications. Centralization could also limit the dependency on other systems to house data needed to generate a list. Lastly, the data retrieval process could benefit from discharging the data retrieval process duties from the Central IT Office and instead allowing campus Alumni Office staff members to retrieve lists.

Allowing alumni staff to generate lists would ensure that lists are generated, and parameters are manipulated to retrieve data in a more intentional way.

It would be more beneficial to centralize the planning steps and management of events in one system instead of using multiple systems and vendors to manage planning and execution. Presently, Excel spreadsheets, external project management software and other vendors (i.e., QFlow and Social Tables) are utilized to manage various elements of the event planning and execution process. Centrally, managing and tracking various elements such as planning timelines, event budgets, event action plans, attendance, fundraising and return on investment will make accounting easier, and create a more seamless and connected event management process. Moreover, the ability to separate gifts from the non-charitable portion of an event is an area of opportunity to be addressed in the future state. Additionally, it can be difficult to establish package pricing for events regarding alumni affiliation or discounts owed to various registrants at the point of registration.

Improved automation, analytics and audience insight would provide more accurate constituent targeting, personalized event suggestions for alumni, and more robust event metrics. Currently, there is limited reporting functionality in ANDI, reducing the amount of information available to development officers attending events with important faculty, staff, and alumni. More robust reporting would not only make it easier to help development officers identify and connect with VIPs and attendees, but analytical insights, engagement and event metrics could help identify the best methods of communication and improve the cadence of communications sent to alumni. Furthermore, the ability to create tags for events could assist in the ability to search for events, build entity interest profiles and improve constituent journeys.

Automation would also reduce the time spent reaching out to registrants that have abandoned registration forms. Automated reminder emails and SMS messaging would improve engagement during the registration process.

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