The CASE VSE Survey Requirements are Changing, Are You Prepared?


As an advancement professional, you’re likely well aware of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) survey. But, are you aware of the most recent changes?


CASE VSE announced upcoming changes in April 2022. If your institution is not yet ready for the changes, now is the time to do so. Implementing these changes will be necessary to participate in the CASE VSE survey.


Remember, participating in the CASE VSE survey is free and voluntary (but highly recommended) for higher education institutions. Participation offers a deeper understanding of private gifts and grants from alumni, parents, other individuals, foundations, corporations, and other organizations.


If you aren’t aware of the CASE VSE survey changes, here’s what to know.



The 2022 fiscal year VSE survey was redesigned to align with the CASE Global Reporting Standards released in March 2021. The CASE Global Reporting Standards publication represents worldwide standards for reporting the outcomes of institutional fundraising.


They are based on a new definition of educational philanthropy and contain guidance around gift counting, funds received, new funds committed, and donor control and influence. The publication is available for purchase in print and digital editions. Learn more on the CASE Global Reporting Standards webpage.


Previously, there were three versions of the VSE survey: the full, the partial, and the minimal. Prior participating institutions have been assigned the new version of the survey that corresponds to the version that they completed in the past.


Full and Partial Version

The full and partial versions of the VSE survey are now combined into one interface. For select questions, respondents have the option to provide either detailed data (equivalent to the full version) or totals (equivalent to the partial version).


For your information: Sections 2, 3a, 3b, 3c (auto totals), and 4a are required. Sections 1, 2b, and 4b are optional.


Respondents who wish to complete the full version of the survey can provide data for gifts for current operations, restricted, at the level of the restriction categories (academic divisions, faculty and staff compensation, student financial aid, etc.). Respondents who wish to complete the partial version can skip the rows for the individual restriction categories and enter only the total of all gifts for current operations, restricted.


Minimal Version

Previously, sections three and four were combined on the minimal version. Now, they are separated into section 3 (fundraising totals, required) and section 4a (additional details, required, which only has three questions).


Previously, minimal survey respondents did not see most of the optional survey questions that were on the full and partial versions. The minimal survey now includes section 4b (optional), giving respondents the opportunity to view those questions and answer some, none, or all of them, as desired.


For your information: Sections 2, 3, and 4a are required. Sections 1, 2b, and 4b are optional.


Other Changes to Note

Section 1: New Funds Committed (All Versions)

Optional in 2022 but may be required in the future


New Funds Committed replaces the former Section 1: Pledges and Testamentary Commitments. There are several changes in how and what to count.


  • New Pledges: Only count the first five years of multi-year pledges. In five years, you can count the subsequent five years on the survey, and so forth.
  • New Funds Received that Were Not Pledged in a Previous Year: Count here outright gifts from living individuals that were not previously pledged; realized bequests that were not previously documented; and newly established irrevocable deferred gifts (charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts, pooled income funds, and remainder interest in property) at face value. These gifts also get counted in Funds Received.
  • New Revocable Bequest Intentions: If you can value a bequest intention, you can count it here. You must have a formal commitment from the donor. The donor must be 65 years old or older at some point during the reporting fiscal year.


Section 2: Enrollment, Endowment, Expenditures, Characteristics (All Versions)



This section is largely unchanged from the former survey except that there are two new questions about the nature of the institution.


  1. Are hospital or medical facility data included in your survey?
  2. In what decade did your institution first employ full-time development and fundraising staff?


Section 3a: Current Operations (Full/Partial Version)



Source Categories


  • New: Non-alumni Individuals: Parents + Other Individuals
  • New: Donor-Advised Funds: DAFs now have their own category. They are no longer counted under Other Organizations.
  • New Definition: Religious Organizations and Fundraising Consortia are now counted under Other Organizations rather than separately.
  • Purpose Categories
  • Purpose categories have been adapted to CASE Global Reporting Standards, 4.2.2, Fund Designations/Restricted.
  • New: Student Affairs/Life
  • New Definition: The following categories that previously had their own rows are now counted under Other Restricted: Public Service & Extension, Library, Operation & Maintenance of Physical Plant.


Section 3b: Capital Purposes (Full/Partial Version)



  1. Outright Gifts for Capital Purposes


Source Categories


  • New: Non-alumni Individuals: Parents + Other Individuals
  • New: Donor-Advised Funds: DAFs now have their own category. They are no longer counted under Other Organizations.
  • New Definition: Religious Organizations and Fundraising Consortia are now counted under Other Organizations rather than separately.


Purpose Categories


  • Purpose categories have not changed.
  • NB: In the Standards, Loan Funds are added to Endowment. In the Core Metrics survey, they were part of All Other Capital purposes, along with Property, Buildings, and Equipment. Keeping them separate here allows them to be allocated either way.


There are other changes to the CASE VSE survey that we’ve noticed but have not included here. If you’re wondering whether your CASE VSE standards are up to date, we’re now booking strategy sessions to evaluate your readiness. Contact us today to get started!

Fundraising Credit and How to Watch Out for Bad Behavior

You’ve established standards for evaluating your fundraising performance. And you’ve also set goals. Fundraising credit is what gets counted in your development officers’ performance to help determine if they are meeting, below, or exceeding goals.


As an institution, you must decide how to establish credit for gifts. Fundraising credit is one of the most debated topics in advancement. But it’s an essential part of the development officer role.


So, what counts toward a development officer’s fundraising goals when things are done in a myriad of different ways?


It’s not always a straightforward practice. And whichever approach your institution adopts, it’s essential to be aware of the unintended destructive behaviors you might be enforcing by choosing a certain practice.


Here are the unintended bad behaviors popular fundraising credit practices may be creating.


#1—Inflated Portfolios


One popular fundraising credit practice is when credit is given to a development officer for all gifts from their assigned portfolio. This might include gifts whether they did anything or not. The credit is given as soon as a donor writes a check, turns over stock, notifies, or completes paperwork on a planned gift—even if an officer did not have a conversation, they get the credit.


The unintended bad behavior that may result is inflated portfolios or assignment hoarding. Remember, even if they’re not involved, they get credit. As a result, officers may feel inclined to get as many people assigned to them as possible since that increases their volume. There is no intentional strategy, and fundraising becomes solely about playing the numbers game.


#2—No Collaboration


Another common fundraising credit practice includes giving credit to the assigned development officer. In this scenario, an officer must demonstrate they had an intentional strategy for that donor that led to the intended gift. For example, “prove it to me you were involved.”


The unintended bad behavior that may arise is a lack of collaboration. If development officers are forced to focus only on their own assignments, they won’t make time to help colleagues. They’ll likely fall into the trap of “I need to get credit; I need to show it’s part of my portfolio and identify my actions that lead to that gift. A collaborative environment falls to the wayside since only the assigned officer gets credit for what they can say they did.


#3—Lack of Focus and Intention


Finally, another common fundraising credit practice is when credit is given to the assigned development officer and all team members who contributed to bringing in the gift.


In a perfect world, this type of practice empowers collaboration. But the unintended bad behavior that may arise is that officers divert their attention by asserting themselves on as many (and any) donor opportunities as possible. In this scenario, simply being a member of the team ensures they get credit whether they did a lot, a little, or even none of the work. This may decrease the level of detail and attention an officer devotes to their assigned portfolio because it pays more dividends to attach themselves to multiple portfolios.


Not all unintended bad behavior will happen in each scenario. But it’s important to create a level of awareness of the unintended consequences in these common practices for assigning fundraising credit.


As you credit your development officers for their fundraising practices, use these four guiding principles for effective management.


  1. Recruit and retain quality development officers. Focus on individuals with a level of professionalism and integrity.
  2. Equip them with the resources and information they need. Insufficient tools to do their job will support the desire to take shortcuts or cut corners—potentially looking to “game” the situation. Development officers may be forced into survival mode because they don’t have what they need to do the job, even though they are expected to perform.
  3. Evaluate performance equitably. Be transparent; there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind on how they’re being evaluated.

Don’t overlook bad behaviors because of success. The ability to raise a lot of money should never excuse unprofessional or bad behavior. Keeping the “bad apples” around can permeate the situation. It will destroy morale in the long-term for only a short-term gain

What’s Considered Fundraising Performance and Do You Have It Covered?

Every institution should have baselines for establishing fundraising performance of their development team. Having some strategy and evaluation tool helps set the starting point or the “scoreboard” for how well (or poorly) a program is doing.


Make your performance metrics readily available so every team member can easily access the information. Clearly defined fundraising performance metrics prevent wasted resources and can act as a self-evaluation tool. Your team can use the information to either stay the course or course-correct if it is working—ultimately keeping your fundraising team on track.


Here’s how you should be evaluating fundraising performance.


Good—Baseline No. 1


An excellent place to start with your fundraising performance evaluation metrics is to identify guidelines and expectations as it relates to individual and overall goals. Development officers can assess current progress against their established goals. These metrics are commonly focused on dollars raised and productivity.


In this case, productivity is considered how many:


  • donors have been engaged;
  • face-to-face visits conducted;
  • meaningful contacts connected with; or
  • proposals or opportunities established.


On an even more detailed level, assess productivity by establishing officer engagement with the donor to determine:


  • size of the gift;
  • area of your organization they want to support; and
  • actual gift or contribution they want to donate.


Better—Baseline No. 2


Once you’ve identified all the evaluation metrics in the “good,” you can then move on to the “better” way to evaluate your team’s fundraising performance.


In this next tier of performance evaluation, examine the comparison between the progress they’ve made to-date versus established goals—focusing on the overall potential of their portfolio. Ask yourself these questions.


  • What could they be doing?
  • What’s their top dollar amount based on who’s in their portfolio?


Your development officers should understand what your institution expects and how it compares to their goals. Additionally, in this level of fundraising performance evaluation metrics, they will know what their maximum potential is, and if they should “up their game.”


Best—Baseline No. 3


The “best” fundraising performance evaluation level includes everything in the “good” and the “better,” plus analytics analysis.


For example, you’ve established a scoreboard, seen progress, and identified your team’s maximum fundraising ceiling. Now, you can add in analytical insight analysis to discover performance gaps that might exist and decide how you can close them.


To reiterate, baseline one includes your standard reporting with some percentages as an evaluation tool. Whereas baseline two helps you to assess what you’re doing in addition to forecasting. Lastly, baseline three is an analysis of data analytics, while simultaneously evaluating and identifying improvements.


These baseline levels are a maturity model and your institution must go through each tier sequentially.

How is Tableau Software different from Microsoft Power BI?

The world of data visualization and analytics is moving fast. However, to remain relevant in the data analytics field, a tool must have that unique mix of power, ease of use, brand recognition, and price. When it comes to Tableau Software and Microsoft Power BI, both tools have this “secret sauce,” which is why many teams find themselves comparing Microsoft Power BI against Tableau when looking for the perfect data analytics tool.


Here’s how they differ.




Power BI uses the existing Microsoft systems like Azure, SQL, and Excel to build data visualizations that are less expensive. This is an excellent choice for those who already work within the Microsoft products like Azure, Office 365, and Excel. In addition, its lower-price option is perfect for smaller organizations that need data visualization. Still, it doesn’t have much extra capital.


Tableau specializes in making beautiful visualizations, but much of its advertising is focused on organizations with data engineers and bigger budgets. There’s a free version available, but it offers limited capabilities. The more you pay, the more you can access Tableau, including benchmarked data from third parties. In addition, Tableau has a nonprofit tool and versions for academic settings.


Takeaway: Overall, Power BI sits at a lower price point than Tableau, with a free version, a monthly subscription, and a scalable premium version with a higher price. Although it’s a Microsoft product, Power BI users don’t have to pay directly for Office365 to access the tool’s admin center interface. However, there will be charges for subscriptions and users. Tableau’s pricing is a little more confusing since it is a tiered system distinguishing between different user types. 




Power BI comes in several forms: desktop, pro, premium, mobile, embedded, and report server. Depending on your role and needs, you might use these services to build and publish visualizations. 


The most basic setup is an Azure tenant (which you can keep even after your trial is over) that you connect to your Power BI through an Office365 Admin interface. Although that sounds daunting, most organizations using the software will already have the framework to get the server running quickly. Power BI is easy to use. You can quickly connect existing spreadsheets, data sources, and apps via built-in connections and an application programming interface (API).


In addition to the free public product, Tableau also comes in several forms: individual, team, and embedded analytics plans, which are available on-premises, via a public cloud server, or a private cloud server. Tableau lets you set up your initial instance through a free trial, which gives you full access to the parts of the tool. 


Takeaway: Power BI is available in three categories. Desktop, mobile, and service. The same basic setup is Azure Tenant. Tableau makes it possible to share the results generated in Tableau desktop over Tableau Online or Tableau Server.


Dashboard and Visualizations


Power BI has API access and pre-built dashboards for speedy insights for some of the most-used technology out there like Salesforce, Google Analytics, email marketing, and of course, Microsoft products. You can also connect to services within your organization or download files to build your visualizations.


Tableau integrates with popular enterprise tools and widely used connections. You can view all the connections included with your account level right when you log into the tool. 


Takeaway: Tableau’s connection interface is a little more involved than Power BI because you’ll need to identify which data to pull into the tool when you make the connection. It might be helpful to understand what data you want to look at and why before you start making those connections.




Some organizations choose to use both Tableau and Power BI to improve their data visualizations. They can be connected, although you may run into issues if you have multi-factor authentication enabled or if a session remains idle for too long. 


Takeaway: Power BI cannot connect to Hadoop databases, whereas it enables data extraction from Azure, Salesforce, and Google analytics. Tableau allows accessing data in the cloud and connecting to Hadoop databases. It also identifies the resource automatically.




Power BI has real-time data access and some helpful drag-and-drop features. The whole tool is built to speed up time to visualizations. It gives even the most novice users access to powerful data analytics and discovery without a lot of prior knowledge and experience.


Real-time data access means that teams can react instantly to business changes fed to Power BI from the CRM, project management, sales, and financial tools. Power BI certainly has the leg up here because live data access is where most SaaS products and especially most dashboard products are moving toward.


Tableau’s features are just as powerful, but some are a little less intuitive, hidden behind menus. For example, use the dashboards and reports to forecast revenue based on past customer behavior and employ calculations to transform existing data based on your requirements. In addition, Tableau gives you live query capabilities and extracts, which is particularly helpful for data analysts who are used to stopping all work for the query process.


Takeaway: Tableau lives somewhere in between query-based (and developer-dependent) data visualization and drag and drop. They balance it nicely; however, despite the somewhat cluttered appearance, Tableau is easy to use if you’re familiar with your data sets or are willing to spend some time studying.

3 Reasons Why Your School Should Participate in the CASE VSE Survey

Since 1957, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) has collected data on fundraising at U.S. higher education institutions and a select group of private K–12 institutions. This annual survey—Voluntary Support of Education Survey (VSE)—offers institutions the opportunity to understand year-over-year trends compared to their peers.


It can be an enormous undertaking for institutions to participate in the CASE VSE survey. Gathering data and accurately reporting it is no small task. But it is to your advantage to participate. Here’s why.


Reason #1—It’s free.


Participation in the VSE survey is free and voluntary (but highly recommended) for higher education institutions. Participation in the survey offers a deeper understanding of private gifts and grants from alumni, parents, other individuals, foundations, corporations, and other organizations.


Reason #2—It provides a comprehensive overview of data.


In addition to gift income—it gathers data on enrollment, endowment market value, plus educational and general expenditures from each institution. Independent schools provide a total advancement program expenditure figure as well.


Reason #3—It offers a visual representation of your trends.


CASE VSE participants receive a report that offers a visual representation of their year-over-year trends compared to their AMAtlas peers. This data can be used to estimate national trends and for benchmarking by individual institutions.


How do you prepare yourself for the VSE survey?


First, visit the CASE AMAtlas Surveys website and create a login. Visit the surveys tab and indicate whether you will participate—opting to participate activates the survey for data entry.


There are different variations of the higher education and pre-college survey. Most institutions complete the full version of the survey, even though they may omit optional questions.


Next, it’s time to collect data for input.


Required  Data for All Survey Versions


  • Enrollment
  • FTE Enrollment (higher education institutions only)
  • Endowment
  • Expenditures
  • Advancement Program Expenditures (pre-college institutions only)
  • Giving by Source—alumni, parents, grandparents (pre-college only), other individuals, foundations, corporations, religious organization, fundraising consortia, and other organizations
  • Giving by Purpose (total is equal to total giving by Source)—specifically support that donors designate
  • Current Operations (unrestricted and restricted)
  • Property, Buildings, or Equipment
  • Endowment (income unrestricted and restricted)
  • Loan Funds
  • Newly Established Deferred Gifts
  • Alumni Records (solicited and donors)
  • Realized bequests and their dollar value
  • Three most significant gifts from living individuals, endowments, foundations, and corporations


Keep in mind there are deadlines for data submission. You’ll need to mark the survey done by October 1st (higher education institutions) or November 1st (pre-college institutions). You can request a deadline extension by email if necessary.


Annual Survey Schedule


  • Late June: The VSE survey opens for data input.
  • October 1st: Survey deadline for higher education institutions.
  • November 1st: Survey deadline for pre-college institutions.
  • February: Official release of the survey results.


How do you continue to maintain viable fundraising records and adapt to change when new standards come out?


Focus on maintaining accurate, organized records. Allow space to adjust as new standards are released. For instance, is your record-keeping able to incorporate changes in data collection and storage? If not, it might be time to analyze your processes and procedures—and maybe even time to consider implementing a Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) system.

How to Develop Your Business Intelligence Team in 5 Steps


Implementing Business Intelligence (BI)—performance-based data, often acquired through software—enables organizations to access constant reporting, meet reporting requirements faster and easier, and foster a broader culture of accountability and data-driven decision-making.


BI data can help you from an operational perspective, fundraising and revenue-hitting goals, and organizational efficiency. Develop and analyze prospects and closely measure your team’s performance with BI data—making decisions regarding things like Key Performance Indicators (KPI), budget forecasting, and other metrics-oriented decisions.


Advanced analytics is a complex undertaking that presents strategic opportunities but also data challenges. But it all starts with an effective business intelligence team. Here’s how to develop yours in five steps.


Step 1: Define Your Vision and Strategy


BI’s main benefit is to help make better-informed decisions supported with accurate data—helping to uncover new business opportunities, cut costs, remain compliant, hire more effectively, or identify inefficient processes that need reengineering.


BI can help make better decisions by showing up-to-date and historical data within the business context.


A few ways that BI can help organizations make smarter, more data-driven decisions include:


  • Identify ways to increase profit
  • Analyze customer behavior
  • Compare data with competitors
  • Track performance
  • Optimize operations
  • Predict success
  • Recognize market trends
  • Discover issues or problems


Before you begin, you’ll need to define your vision and strategy. Too often, organizations dive into BI with high aspirations and little planning to get there.


To define your data roadmap, you’ll first need to identify things like:


  • Mission, vision, and competitive strategy
  • Goals for the data team to achieve
  • Infrastructure you need to accomplish
  • Resources to prioritize


Step 2: Structure Your Analytics Organization


Building your BI team requires structure that supports the vision and strategy you’ve defined. Misaligning your team structure can result in subpar results, lost revenue, and team burnout.


There are several ways to structure your team.


A centralized team structure is often independent of the Information Technology (IT) department in larger organizations. A centralized team may have its own budget and more autonomy. Frequently, the analytics team reports directly to an executive.


The main benefit of the centralized team structure is the autonomy it presents. The BI team can apply analytics and data as they deem necessary—providing value and support to your overall strategy.


On the contrary, the centralized team can become siloed and get buried in overly complicated processes—keeping them from being productive and impactful. Not to mention, everyone is accessing the same data sets which can result in a duplication of effort.


A decentralized team model functions similar to marketing a product. You hire a dedicated team member to create and control an internal team effectively. The leader of this team would need to be someone with skills in the hybrid domain and analytics.


The decentralized teams works independently of other teams, and priorities are decided by the C-suite. This structure is useful in the early stages of data science, providing “quick wins” in pilot projects—it often proves less risk.


This team structure is not effective unless an organization has robust data governance and master a data management model. Otherwise, people within different business units and functions may have conflicting information or require more time to verify analytics conclusions.


A hybrid team structure is a combination of a centralized and decentralized team. It functions similar to a centralized unit, except the team is placed under a business function—using analytics to drive strategic results.


In this structure, the team reports to the head of the department. Hybrid teams are useful for organizations with less mature analytics strategies or limited resources.


Step 3: Define Roles


After you’ve defined your vision, strategy, and structure, you can now identify individual skills and team roles needed to achieve these results.


A great place to start is leadership.


The Business Intelligence Director is a high level and expensive position—it is the most sought-after position in Advancement. This position directs and oversees high level strategic and tactical decisions for BI tools and applications—they are responsible for leading the design and maintenance.


After you’ve established leadership, create job roles that help fulfill the skills and resources you defined in your data vision and strategy. Avoid getting stuck on the right job title, but instead, focus on understanding the skills required and how you might leverage or complement those skills—whether through existing team members or outside vendors.


Step 4: Recruit and Assess


A successful data-driven organization isn’t derived solely from data, but from the people. Hiring the best resources is where the value from data is created within your organization.


You can choose to hire talent to fulfill an internal role or opt to partner with an outside vendor. From inception to operational stability, leveraging outside consultants to jumpstart your effort depends on the types of resources available.


If your needs are in advanced technology or machine learning, consider looking to outside vendors to fulfill your needs. Currently, this role is exceptionally specialized and could cost your organization upwards of $250,000 annually. In this instance, working with a vendor is more affordable than hiring someone internally.


Step 5: Develop Data Skills


Data skills should not remain siloed in the BI team if organizations hope to add value and create a competitive advantage from their data. Data democratization—enables the average end-user to evaluate data without requiring outside help—is essential for companies who embrace it, leveraging it to create a data-driven culture.


To ensure a data-driven culture, consider taking steps toward developing employee data skills.


  • Cross-pollination: allows team members with diverse and complementary skills to develop new ideas and concepts.
  • Cross-functional collaboration: similar to cross-pollination—directly related to organizational structure—and encourages team members to work closely together with the BI team.
  • Hybrid career paths: creates opportunities so employees can shift into other data related operations like management, digital marketing, or customer relationship management.
  • Provide professional development: offers monthly presentations from internal or external experts, inviting staff to attend data analytics conferences and workshops.


Building your BI team is a complex process, requiring a long-term view and a clearly identified mission and vision for your data goals. The ability to get data faster depends on your relationships with centralized resources—accelerating with the right hires, whether internal or external.