How the Western Dominican Province Grows Fundraising at Scale

See how the Western Dominican Province has reduced staff time by hours and increased contributions using Virtuous.

Case Study

About the Dominican Friars

The Dominican Friars are an 800-year-old Catholic religious order. Friars minister as itinerant preachers, provide pastoral care at parishes and university Newman Centers, are engaged in missionary work with the poor and marginalized, and serve in specialized ministries. Many friars are involved in academic ministry, researching and teaching the Catholic intellectual tradition in colleges and seminaries around the world. The Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Western Dominican Province), serves the western United States and has been a Virtuous customer since 2020.

The Challenge

Over the past 10 years, the Western Dominican Province has grown significantly. During that time, their fundraising has also increased each year, and they now raise several million dollars a year to fund projects within the Province.

Before switching to Virtuous, the Western Dominican Province was using Raiser’s Edge NXT. When they were impacted by the 2020 Blackbaud data breach, they began thinking about changing CRM providers. “It was an interesting moment for our team here, “ says Bryan Fegley, Director of Advancement. “When the data breach happened, it kind of broke the spell over us.”

The team at the Western Dominican Province wanted more innovative software, with products that stayed current, regular releases and updates, and for issues to be fixed when they arose. After a donor recommended Virtuous, the team decided to learn more about our offerings. They were happy to find a mission-focused company with great customer service and a product they were excited to use.

“We wanted to pick a company that we could see ourselves staying with for decades. We don’t want to go through the pain of another database conversion at the end of our contract. So that was a really big part of our discernment process. And we were really very pleased we chose Virtuous,” says Bryan.

How Virtuous Helped

Clearer Insights Coupled with Donor-Centric Fundraising

In the first six months of using Virtuous, the Western Dominican Province saw a 36% increase in total dollars raised. Bryan credits that to clearer data insights and having a system that is built for donor-centric fundraising.

“We’re catching people that would normally have fallen through the cracks. Virtuous’ automations help elevate the level of attention everyone gets. The ease of receipting in Virtuous makes it so that we’ve gotten a few calls where people got their thank you letter before the finance department even had a chance to deposit their check,” says Bryan. “I think all those little things increase the efficiency and speed of a fundraising program. And I think the donors recognize that, they see those little things.”

Streamlined Systems Reduce Admin Time

In Raiser’s Edge NXT, receipting took the team approximately 30 minutes a day. In Virtuous, it takes about 5 minutes a day. “30 minutes a day, five days a week adds up to a lot of time,” says Bryan. “Five minutes a day is great.”

Virtuous helps the team streamline their work.“Something the advancement services team really appreciates about Virtuous is all the time saved. You can have a download preparing in the background, or an import processing in the background, and it doesn’t freeze the whole system, which it frequently did in Raiser’s Edge 7.

We’d have to say to our team, ‘No one can use the database for the next three hours, because we’re running a 20,000 person export.’” Instead, the team can keep using Virtuous while various intensive tasks are running. “It’s saved a lot of staff hours by being able to do simultaneous work,” says Bryan.

In Raiser’s Edge NXT, receipting took the team approximately 30 minutes a day. In Virtuous, it takes about 5 minutes a day. “30 minutes a day, five days a week adds up to a lot of time,” says Bryan. “Five minutes a day is great.”

Virtuous helps the team streamline their work.“Something the advancement services team really appreciates about Virtuous is all the time saved. You can have a download preparing in the background, or an import processing in the background, and it doesn’t freeze the whole system, which it frequently did in Raiser’s Edge 7.

We’d have to say to our team, ‘No one can use the database for the next three hours, because we’re running a 20,000 person export.’” Instead, the team can keep using Virtuous while various intensive tasks are running. “It’s saved a lot of staff hours by being able to do simultaneous work,” says Bryan.

Automation Improves Data Health and Donor Communications

The team uses automation to communicate with donors as well as manage data and administrative tasks. “Running automation has almost been like adding another staff member to our team,” says Bryan.

“We have four or five automations that do data cleanup for us,” Bryan says. They automatically tag donors for wealth screening, alerting the team to potential major donors. “We use org groups to organize the different entities we fundraise for in the Province. And if a person in the CRM doesn’t have an org group, they will automatically be assigned to someone in our data team to review,” he says. “We’re cleaning up the data as we go so that records aren’t being created with missing key data points. Hopefully, we catch errors within a week of them being created, instead of a year from now.”

The team also runs a new donor welcome series to introduce donors to the organization and lead them to their next act of generosity. Automated communications help them stay in touch with givers at all giving levels.

The team uses automation to communicate with donors as well as manage data and administrative tasks. “Running automation has almost been like adding another staff member to our team,” says Bryan.

“We have four or five automations that do data cleanup for us,” Bryan says. They automatically tag donors for wealth screening, alerting the team to potential major donors. “We use org groups to organize the different entities we fundraise for in the Province. And if a person in the CRM doesn’t have an org group, they will automatically be assigned to someone in our data team to review,” he says. “We’re cleaning up the data as we go so that records aren’t being created with missing key data points. Hopefully, we catch errors within a week of them being created, instead of a year from now.”

The team also runs a new donor welcome series to introduce donors to the organization and lead them to their next act of generosity. Automated communications help them stay in touch with givers at all giving levels.

A Growth Partner

Bryan values the voice he has as a Virtuous customer. “The roadmap is a democratized process. Now people can vote on the features they want, they can suggest feature requests, and the team at Virtuous looks at them seriously,“ he says.

The team at the Western Dominican Province was looking for more than a vendor. They needed a technology partner to support their growth. They have one in Virtuous.

Bryan values the voice he has as a Virtuous customer. “The roadmap is a democratized process. Now people can vote on the features they want, they can suggest feature requests, and the team at Virtuous looks at them seriously,“ he says.

The team at the Western Dominican Province was looking for more than a vendor. They needed a technology partner to support their growth. They have one in Virtuous.

Accessible Data, Greater Visibility

“The fact that Virtuous is entirely web based is great,” says Bryan. “Raiser’s Edge NXT just isn’t at the same level as Virtuous. Often to get the information you need, you have to open the database view, which requires Citrix, and that’s just a nightmare.” Bryan and other team members travel a lot for work, so it was important to be able to quickly pull up information from anywhere.

With Virtuous, the team at the Western Dominican Province can get even deeper into their data by integrating with other tools. “The Metabase integration offered by Virtuous is awesome,” says Bryan. “We never had that kind of live data when we were in Raiser’s Edge. We used to have to pull out reports and then do the calculations and analytics in Excel, which was time consuming. Now we are able to query on the SQL database directly, which is really awesome.”

“The fact that Virtuous is entirely web based is great,” says Bryan. “Raiser’s Edge NXT just isn’t at the same level as Virtuous. Often to get the information you need, you have to open the database view, which requires Citrix, and that’s just a nightmare.” Bryan and other team members travel a lot for work, so it was important to be able to quickly pull up information from anywhere.

With Virtuous, the team at the Western Dominican Province can get even deeper into their data by integrating with other tools. “The Metabase integration offered by Virtuous is awesome,” says Bryan. “We never had that kind of live data when we were in Raiser’s Edge. We used to have to pull out reports and then do the calculations and analytics in Excel, which was time consuming. Now we are able to query on the SQL database directly, which is really awesome.”

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