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Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, the nation’s ninth oldest college, has a proud heritage but its development office responsible for much of the school’s external relations was in desperate need of an update. Otherwise its employees would’ve virtually drowned in the 50-plus years of documentation that kept stacking up as new paperwork arrived. At the time, the entire University was using Datatel Benefactor.
Someone suggested merely locking down the file room, which not only wouldn’t work because of accessibility issues, but also because it wasn’t waterproof or fireproof. “We were looking at that expense, too,” explained Cassie Ritter Hunt, the former director of advancement operations. Eventually, the school converted over to The Raiser’s Edge™, fund raising and donor management software from Blackbaud®, to make their processes easier, but knew after just a few months that they needed a bit more help to get rid of the paper pile. “I didn’t want my staff to have to spend time filing. Everybody hates to file. And then what are we left with? Paper files, which are still only accessible to people in that building. We wanted a product that would be out of the box, ready to go.”
Hunt mentioned her need to a Blackbaud consultant and she, in turn, mentioned that Florida State had just converted over with PaperSave, a revolutionary software program. “PaperSave just seemed like the natural solution. This product was designed to work perfectly with The Raiser’s Edge,” Hunt said. Other departments within Washington and Lee had begun using ImageNow, but Hunt found PaperSave was much more economical and allowed her to integrate scanning with their system daily process, instead of just using it for filing.
Hunt claimed implementing PaperSave was “seamless. There was a very, very, very small learning curve.” And she added PaperSave was the fastest thing they picked up over the conversion.
No one on her staff has filed a single piece of paper since then. “The price was right. And it improves accuracy,” she added. Plus having all documentation stored electronically has made information sharing much easier, even with the 20 fundraising staffers who travel or work from remote offices. “Everybody has different security rights within The Raiser’s Edge. PaperSave understands those. Before, I either had to e-mail it to them or put on a drive that everybody could see.” Now every support staff member has a scanner so all communications are saved electronically.
Gift processors also have an additional monitor. Each day they open the mail, scan all the gift documentation (including checks) in, process them one at a time, then attach them to records. And during annual audits, PaperSave has proven indispensable. Her department is required to provide documentation for any gift of $100,000 or more so, in the past, that meant sending gift processors to pull files, make copies, create additional documentation, then deliver them to other offices on campus. “It took a few days,” she said. “This year, we did a query… did a download… and e-mailed it to the auditors. Because it was our first time it took about 30 minutes. Next year it will take 10 minutes! It made our audit so much easier.”
And how does Washington and Lee’s development department now handle incoming paper? “Every time that shredding company comes, I feel really good. We’re recycling in an appropriate way. We’re going to have room for a couple more offices,” Hunt exclaimed.
Moving forward, her department plans to use the software’s query feature to find old documents, like gift checks, to delete. Hunt predicts the amount of staff time it would’ve taken for purging alone will provide a significant return on the university’s investment.
Hunt left Washington and Lee for a position with a fundraising consulting firm early 2010, but she said getting PaperSave implemented is one accomplishment she is glad to have been part of. “It’s one of the most visible ways we have improved the process. I plan on telling a lot of schools how great PaperSave is.”
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