CU Ascend, a new fundraising technology platform, debuts May 30

Tool will better connect university with donors and alumni
By Staff

CU Advancement and the CU Foundation this month will launch a new technology platform that will enhance the university’s relationships with its donors and alumni, increase philanthropic support and protect donor data, among other improvements.

The new technology, called CU Ascend, is a constituent relationship management platform, or CRM, that gives Advancement staff better insight into donors’ philanthropic interests through modernized databases and tools. It will debut May 30.

“CU Ascend is a foundation for how we will inspire our donors to support what they’re passionate about across our campuses,” said Annie Baccary, CU’s vice president for Advancement Administration. “We built this platform with them in mind. Their generosity and engagement advances CU’s mission, so it’s crucial we improve their experiences with us. Better donor experiences directly translate to student success, life-changing discoveries and access to world-class health care.”

The launch marks several years of planning and technical work during the NextGen project, a collaborative initiative among each campus’s Advancement office, the CU Foundation, System Advancement and other teams. It’s built using Salesforce and represents a shift to scalable technology that connects more fluidly with relevant CU systems and databases.

CU’s ability to engage donors, thank them for their philanthropy and process their gifts are among the improvements coming. Donors mostly won’t notice any changes when CU Ascend debuts, as most work will happen behind the scenes.

But this month’s launch is just the start, and Advancement and Foundation staff will shift focus in the coming months and years to improving alumni engagement and CU’s giving website as well as email, events and other tools.

“We’re excited to roll out more enhancements, particularly those that improve donors’ and alumni’s more outward experiences with CU — like a new giving website and better connections through email, social media and events,” said Brie Aguila, chairperson for the CU Ascend project and assistant vice chancellor for external relations at CU Anschutz. “But for now, we’re focused on our launch platform. Like all major technology debuts, we expect to find bugs and address other issues. We’ll work on those and then focus on exciting features that are coming up.”

Some CU philanthropic fund managers who handle the distribution of gift funds may notice changes to how they interact with Advancement and the Foundation. Staff who use Foundation reports to access fund information are encouraged to read this primer that details changes to funds.

CU staff with questions about CU Ascend can email