Spotlight: Turning Data into Donations – ANR’s Maria Fernandez

By Alexa Rivetti, IT Communications Coordinator, UCOP. Maria Fernandez has undeniable warmth and charisma – two characteristics that lend themselves well to fundraising. As database administrator for the development services department for UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) and the California 4H Foundation, Fernandez is in charge of both the database and donor stewardship. This includes thanking numerous donors.

Last year, Fernandez kept track of approximately 2,500 donations totaling $5 million. Her biggest and most exciting project to date is a database upgrade transitioning ANR from Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge software to a web-based product called NXT, which will launch ANR into the next mode of fundraising abilities. Currently on the first phase of roll out now, this is not a process she wants to rush; her goal is to be fully operational by the end of spring 2016.

“For executives and fundraisers on the ground, this upgrade is exciting because they can now pull up important information on their mobile devices. The best part is the data analytics though,” Fernandez said. “I look forward to analyzing data points across fiscal years and being able to answer hard questions like, ‘What did we do differently last year that we didn’t do this year? Why did we make more? Why did we make less?’”

To be successful at fundraising, one must believe in the mission, which is very easy to do, Fernandez said, when you work at a place like ANR. “Loving the mission makes sharing the mission easier, and the donation is the reward for it all.”

ANR and California 4-H will be taking part in “Giving Tuesday,” which takes place on November 29, 2016, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. “We are excited to share that the California 4-H Foundation’s Board of Directors and an anonymous donor have provided up to $20,000 in matching funds for gifts supporting the California 4-H Youth Development Program on Giving Tuesday,” Fernandez said. 4-H state programs include everything from Leadership to Animal Science, while county-based programs range from Rabbit Projects to Robotics. Visit the website for information about donating to the 4-H Foundation on Giving Tuesday.

ANR donors can choose to support State Programs (e.g., Informatics and Geographic Information Systems, Nutrition Policy Institute), Research and Extension Centers, or county-specific programs (e.g., Master Gardeners, Master Food Preservers). Visit the website for more information about donating to ANR on Giving Tuesday.

So this year, instead of hopping online for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, please consider giving a gift to ANR or the California 4-H Foundation. You may just receive a thank you note from Maria Fernandez!

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