Salesforce Education Cloud for Advancement & Alumni Relations

Mary Beth Cahill |

Former Analyst

Portrait of a happy female student holding a laptop outdoors on campus
Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

As many of you may know, Salesforce launched the first version of their Salesforce Education Cloud for Advancement & Alumni Relations in the fall of 2023. I recently had an opportunity to catch up with the Salesforce product architect for this solution. I was impressed with the depth and breadth of the product, its architectural design and approach to advancement, and the solution’s emphasis on creating meaningful engagement with students before they become alumni. The release of the Advancement & Alumni Relations application rounds out Salesforce’s Education Cloud platform and its support of the student lifecycle, which also includes applications for Recruiting and Admissions, Student Success, and Academic Operations.

With the recent release of its Education Cloud and Education Data Foundation data model, Salesforce’s commitment to the higher education industry allows it to deliver functionality more quickly by leveraging Salesforce innovations from other industry clouds and native industry applications. While Salesforce Advancement & Alumni Relations seemed to have suddenly appeared, the company has been working on the solution for several years and is making significant investments in designing and delivering its advancement constituent relationship management (CRM) solution.

What Sets Salesforce Education Cloud for Advancement & Alumni Relations Apart

What sets the Salesforce Education Cloud for Advancement & Alumni Relations apart from other Salesforce partner advancement CRM applications is that all aspects of the solution are either built in the core Java layer of Salesforce that can run either in first-party data centers or public cloud infrastructure or run “off-core” on AWS, compared to managed packages that layer on top of the Salesforce CRM. The benefit of this native architecture is threefold: increased scalability, flexibility, and processing speed with the potential to perform tens of millions of transactions in a single batch. Secondly, Salesforce has an embedded Data Processing Engine that provides data transformation capabilities purpose built for transforming data from Salesforce staging tables into Salesforce data model objects, improving the capabilities to bring data into the advancement modules. A third key benefit is that the Advancement and Education models co-exist and are compatible, thus making it easier for institutions to realize enterprise-wide CRM using the Salesforce Education Cloud and the Salesforce Data Cloud (previously Salesforce Data Genie).

Salesforce Education Cloud for Advancement & Alumni Relations’ Capabilities

From a functional perspective, Salesforce Education Cloud for Advancement & Alumni Relations was initially released with core foundational capabilities and is augmented by an aggressive 2024 roadmap. While there seems to be a perception that Salesforce Education Cloud for Advancement & Alumni Relations is designed as more of a lightweight advancement solution, the system has been architected to deliver complex advancement functionality. A core design theme of the solution is focused on engagement, specifically engaging with students well before they become alumni, by rolling back the giving window for young alumni with capabilities such as high-impact mentoring. Interest Tags are a differentiator providing a view into campaigns enabling the matching of donors and prospects to best-fit campaigns using tagging. The solution will also support AI via the Salesforce Education Intelligence that combines CRM Analytics with AI-powered insights.

The initial version of Salesforce Education Cloud for Advancement & Alumni Relations includes foundational capabilities in support of constituent management, gift processing, campaign management, portfolio management, tributes, and reporting and analytics. Additional functionality will be delivered in the 2024 spring, summer, and winter releases. The Salesforce CRM also organically offers institutions flexibility, scalability, extensibility, and more.


Today, more than 50 percent of US higher education institutions are still using non-CRM legacy solutions for advancement. Since the market has seen a couple of advancement solutions (Causeview and ThankQ) scale back their efforts in the US market in the past few years, having another viable option is good for higher education. More than 10 institutions of varying sizes, sectors, and levels of complexity have selected Salesforce’s advancement solution to date. While these institutions are early adopters, they will have an opportunity to influence the product roadmap. As an advancement enthusiast, I look forward to following the progress of this new solution.

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Mary Beth Cahill |
Former Analyst
As a former senior analyst for Tambellini Group, Mary Beth Cahill focused her research on CRM and advancement initiatives. She has led numerous research efforts, specifically in vendor administrative systems and student information systems (SIS) software solutions, data and learning analytics, CRM, learning management, and social networking. Mary Beth was also the co-author of several published industry reports, including Tambellini Group's "Upgrade or Replace" and "Vendor Review" series of reports.

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