EverTrue, a nonprofit founded in 2010 by Brent Grinna, an alumnus of Brown University and Harvard Business School, is a new platform that helps private colleges locate potential donors.
According to their website, evertrue.com, EverTrue seeks to fulfill their mission: “to build relationships in pursuit of a better world.”
“I volunteered to help with my reunion fundraising campaign for my college,” Grinna said on the website. “During that process, I was equipped with spreadsheets filled mostly with out-of-date information, which made it challenging for me to effectively reach out to my classmates and prioritize my efforts.”
Grinna saw a new way to incorporate modern social media analytics into helping nonprofits, such as colleges, churches and hospitals, raise money.
Thus, EverTrue was born.
The Boston-based nonprofit boasts a relaxed and thriving corporate culture, with 40 employees and 270 customers.
“The team eats lunch together every Wednesday, competes in Fitbit and ping-pong challenges together and occasionally spends long hours at the office together,” the website says.
“EverTrue’s mission is to help connect people,” Elisabeth Carpenter, chief operating officer of EverTrue, said. “One of the ways we do that is we enable nonprofits to be better equipped to raise money.”
Carpenter said that with most schools, there’s a gap from the tuition paid and what it costs to educate them. The method in which these schools profit or break even is by donations called endowments, which are then used by the schools however they see fit.
However, schools in the SUNY system are funded by New York state. According to SUNY’s website, the budget for state-operated colleges in 2012-2013 was $10.2 billion.
No comment has been received about Plattsburgh State’s individual funding.
Carpenter said EverTrue helps all sorts of nonprofits, from colleges to hospitals, better understand their donor base.
“We have software that we sell to nonprofits,” Carpenter said. “(Our) software is very expensive to build, and in order to make money, it’s something we have to sell, or else we wouldn’t be able to survive.”
EverTrue has gained high praise from various colleges and academic institutions in regard to their software and business practices.
According to the EverTrue site, Colgate University Associate Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Relations Tim Mansfield said, “This is a team of people really helping to advance our industry. There’s no other company like EverTrue that’s been able to do so as swiftly, creatively and collaboratively as this team has.”
“The application and website are a huge asset to planning trips, identifying prospects and gathering up-to-date information on prospects that changed careers,” Matt Letendre, Brown University’s assistant director of their sports foundation, said on EverTrue’s website.
Plattsburgh State has not enlisted EverTrue’s services.
With the rise of social media, there is an inherent concern about online privacy.
“Everything we do is very confidential because we deal with human information,” Carpenter said. “The data we look at is data that the person themselves has chosen to make public. Most Facebook users have chosen to be discovered.”
PSUC students and faculty seem to understand the logic behind EverTrue’s business model.
“With the rise of social media, there is an inherent risk in putting any information on the Internet,” PSUC public relations major Sean Messier said. “If companies want to use that for capitalism, it’s kind of expected.”
Meghan Confer, a PSUC psychology major, said, “I don’t really have a problem with (their methods). I think it’s OK.”
PSUC Marketing and Entrepreneurship Adjunct Lecturer Mark Lukens said EverTrue is not the only company that helps nonprofits raise money.
“They’re capitalizing on what already exists,” Lukens said. “It’s not novel by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just a platform to help facilitate the dialogue.”
“If I’m selling a product where anyone in the population is a general consumer of mine, I might gravitate toward a program like this,” he said. “If I’m not in that arena, the fact that I can look at the map and see 20 alumni in my area, what’s the value proposition to me as an individual?”
He said this is only a question that the person who is using EverTrue’s — or a similar company’s — product can answer.
“If I don’t see value in it,” Lukens said, “I’m not going to use it.”
Email Timothy Lyman at firstname.lastname@example.org.