St. George’s School: Slaying The Data Conversion Dragon

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St. George’s School (K-12) is in Middletown, Rhode Island – and is set in an extraordinary place – right on the ocean!  Their proximity to the ocean presents many opportunities to grow and expand their students’ horizons.

In this case – the advancement staffers took that philosophy to heart – and truly expanded their fundraising horizons by moving from Millennium to Salesforce / Affinaquest this past January.

The impetus for converting to Salesforce was because of the leadership of Jedd Whitlock, their Advancement Head, who also graduated from St. George’s!

His experience with Salesforce prior to coming to the advancement post at St. George’s gave him insight into the possibilities. He knew it would bring about transformational change in how they approached their advancement work, data, and donors.


The school converted to Millennium over 30 years ago. St. George’s had approximately 18,000 constituents and gift data that went back to the 1990s! 

The advancement staff has been, and continues to be, lean with only a dozen people and their budget for the project was even leaner.

They needed to convert to Salesforce as quickly and efficiently as possible.  Their goal was to complete it within one year (and they did!)

The Dream Team

Two of the staffers, Cindy Martin and Sue Russell, who participated in the original Millennium conversion – were now guiding the conversion to Salesforce!  A fun fact about Cindy and Sue (and one of the reasons this project was so enjoyable) they are sisters!

Cindy Martin and Sue Russell were key to this project’s success and have painstakingly taken care of St. George’s donor and gift data for 3 decades and they have done so with professionalism and a great sense of humor.

What Was Involved?

The key parts of the implementation involved:

  • Mapping, migrating, and testing the data.
  • Salesforce/Affinaquest Training and data entry assistance.
  • Developing custom reports and dashboards, including Apsona.
  • Developing calculated giving summaries.
  • Light configurations/automation to help with navigation and data entry.

Obstacles to Overcome

The biggest obstacle was the aggressive timescale set for the implementation – to both run the advancement operations on the legacy system while also participating in all the steps listed above.

Cindy and Sue could run Millennium with their eyes closed with one hand tied behind their back.  They also knew their data extremely well, but now they had to learn a whole new way of thinking and working in Salesforce / Affinaquest and teach others as well.

One way of handling the workload was to take a step back during the school’s busiest months of the school year – September, December, and May and plan to do more implementation work during less busy parts. 

The actual conversion took place over a long holiday weekend late in January, giving them ample room in the quiet fundraising month of February to really settle into Salesforce. This also gave them the spring months leading up to May to experiment and learn more about the system.

The learning curve was intense, but over time, Cindy and Sue not only learned Salesforce, but started to train others. They watched videos and trailheads. They asked lots of questions. They tested ideas out in Sandbox. They started to create their own reports and dashboards. They uploaded data using data loader.  They started to re-arrange the page layouts on their own. They guided others on how to enter data.  They learned what the Recycle Bin was!  They were becoming Salesforce Admins and didn’t even realize it!

Transformation Complete

The shift from Millennium to Salesforce did happen over a long weekend but the changes to St. George’s way of interacting with their data have continued (and will continue to evolve as they make tweaks to their data and system as time goes on).  

How do you measure transformation when it comes to conversions – one way is this, “Can you get the data out the way you want it? Is it better than before?”  We knew the transformation at St. George’s was complete when Cindy and Sue told us that one of their most valuable gift reports coming out of Salesforce was “the pièce de résistance, a work of art!”

We look forward to continuing to work with  Jedd, Cindy, Sue, and the entire St.George team as they embrace 21st Century fundraising. If you are interested in supporting St.George’s School or learning more about their projects, please check out their Website.

If you are interested in more information about Implementing Salesforce at your own organization check out our Salesforce Information Page.

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