3 bbcon Takeaways to Power 2019 Planning for Higher Ed

Last month we concluded bbcon 2018, the premier tech gathering for organizations and change agents driving social good, at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.  Approximately 3,600 attendees joined to share the latest insights, trends and innovations. Over the course of the three-day event, attendees participated in more than 250 expert-led sessions. And we really turned up the energy for higher education, from a main stage announcement about our comprehensive Cloud Solution for Higher Education to the chance for attendees to share #WhatHigherEdMeanstoMe in the Innovation Showcase Expo.  

One of my favorite Blackbaud experiences is bbcon. Something new is on the horizon every time. Something changes. It’s not the same. Blackbaud ups the ante in terms of the environment, the offerings, the sessions, the people.” – Jayne O’Leary from Salem State University 

If you couldn’t attend, you can still use the below to inspire meaningful conversations and help for your 2019 planning. 

The stakes have never been higher 

Alumni communities are more dispersed than ever before, and alumni and campus communities have new and sophisticated expectations. Our speakers in the super session took a deep dive into trends across higher education technology landscape, strategies for using technology to effectively engage students and alumni, and the considerations institutions must make when managing and awarding scholarships.  

We have seen, and will continue to see, changes in the tech landscape, and this notion of engagement with students throughout their journey. More and more institutions are focusing on how to keep students engaged from pre-enrollment, through-enrollment, and post-enrollment, and all the things that can happen throughout that journey. As they move across the student journey, focusing on student engagement is key. We are seeing more institutions focusing on this and making sure the moment the student commits that they are going to be supporting and engaging with them in a real meaningful way.

Moving down the path of modern digital transformation  

As our world becomes increasingly tech focused, digital transformation is a key part of the future of donor stewardship at higher education institutions. Colleges and universities are dedicating budgets and resources to creating stewardship programs that show donors the meaningful impact they are having on campus. These programs are being used to establish relationships and drive future giving. Stewardship is no longer about sending a thank-you note or acknowledgment in the mail within 48 hours of receiving a gift. 

To stay at top of mind for current donors and donors of the future you must share with them how important they are to you, your campus, and the students who are impacted by their generosity. They want to know that their funds are going to support the causes they care about, and the time is now to put the processes and technology in place to share this information with them. 

A strong online engagement strategy 

Engaging prospective and current students, alumni, and supporters starts with a powerful, responsive web presence and personalized email communication. And tracking your constituents’ activity—such as giving history, appeals, attended events, birthdays, etc.—is critical to enabling personalization. Learn how to successfully build your online engagement strategy by focusing on four key areas: 

  1. Enable a seamless online giving experience.
  2. Drive engagement with social insight.
  3. Deploy digital peer-to-peer and do-it-yourself (DIY) fundraising tools.
  4. Optimize your online engagement tools for the biggest impact.

More than 20 sessions dedicated to higher education institutions, including many led by customers  

  • A higher education customer panel session featured experts from Fanshawe CollegeGrinnell CollegeManchester University, and University of South Alabama. Becky Campbell, a gift and donor system facilitator at Fanshawe College, ​discussed how they increased efficiency and developed healthier data after implementing their CRM solution 
  • Dwight Dozier, chief information officer at Georgia Tech Foundation, James Wiley, principal analyst at Eduventures, Fred Weiss, chief research and data officer at CASE, Tim Hill, president & GM of Blackbaud Higher Education Solutions, and Amy Chase, VP of professional services at Blackbaud discussed emerging trends and the role of technology in the higher education sector.  
  • James Wiley of Eduventures sat down with Tim Hill, president & GM of Blackbaud Higher Education Solutions, in the bbcon lounge to discuss the latest tech trends in higher education. You can check out their pop-up session on YouTube here 

Missed out on bbcon this year? Get unlimited on-demand access to over 13 hours of main stage presentations and other premier content on demand from bbcon 2018, with unlimited access through until March 2019! Virtual Passes for bbcon 2018 are available for purchase until December 31, 2018.   

Explore additional resources around these topics on the Blackbaud Higher Education content hub. Then, lock in your ticket to bbcon 2019 in Nashville now with discounted rates!