College Spotlight: University of Michigan

Written by Abby Nieten on August 21, 2012

Posted in Case Studies, Education

While every college has its own unique challenges, one of the biggest obstacles for larger universities is maintaining contact with the hundreds of thousands of students, faculty, and alumni in its community. While email systems and direct mailings help reduce this volume issue, Formstack can help higher education administrators easily synchronize this information in one database, decreasing the time needed to organize thousands of student and alumni submissions.

Melissa Cox is the assistant director of web and data integration at the University of Michigan. Her second title might as well be “Formstack Enthusiast” – at least we think that would be cooler. Cox uses Formstack on a regular basis to collect data from thousands of students and alumni, with the intention of meeting student engagement and fundraising goals set by her department (development services). “We’ve been using Formstack for about three years,” said Cox. “We’ve literally saved a couple hours a week, which add up!”

Want to know the details? Here’s their story …
University of Michigan

What: With three campuses and more than 58,000 students, the University of Michigan is one of the largest public colleges in the Midwest. Established in 1817, the university boasts more than 8,000 faculty members and more than a half-million living alumni.

Where: Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Problem: One of the primary responsibilities for Cox’s department is to solicit donations from UofM alumni, which can then be used as scholarship funding for current students. However, with the overwhelming volume of students benefiting from these funds, Cox found it was difficult to connect donors with their scholarship recipients. “We needed to launch a new initiative that allowed current scholarship students to easily provide updates and personal thank-you notes to the donors that provided their scholarship,” said Cox.

The Solution: Not only does Formstack’s easy form builder allow users to quickly create forms, but all submissions are stored in one streamlined database, making it easy for Cox to track student scholarship recipients. “ A Formstack form is emailed to the students who receive funding from alumni.  They can express their appreciation in the form and upload a photo, perhaps from a group project or their travels abroad,” said Cox. “We can easily format it into a stewardship communication with the donor.”

The Outcome:
Thanks to Formstack, Cox and the department of development services are able to maintain open communication between students and donors, and scholarship recipients are able to easily express gratitude for their gifts. “Due to the high volume of scholarship students, Formstack is a livesaver, making it easier and faster for us to both educate the students of the importance of private support, as well as steward our generous donors in a meaningful way so they are continuously reminded of the impact of their gift,” said Cox.

In the future, Cox plans to use Formstack to enhance internal office communications, and she intends to educate others about Formstack’s simplicity. “It’s really cool to witness people who have no idea what Formstack even is become really experienced with the product,” said Cox. “I’m trying to show co-workers ways to streamline everything, and Formstack helps. From meeting times to what you want for lunch, just make a form for it!”