How Data Insight Helps Princeton Support Student Financial Aid

By Michelle Wallace 2014/02/25

The Office of Development at Princeton University is responsible for fundraising efforts that ultimately help thousands of students pursue their dreams. And with the major role it plays in financial-aid efforts, it’s no surprise that this office deals with a lot of data.

While the Development Office had been using Tableau for years, it hadn’t really tapped into the full potential of the tool—until it connected it to its Oracle database in 2012. The result was a “paradigm shift,” which we recently discussed with Heather Campbell, the Associate Director of Development Research Analytics at Princeton University.

Princeton University's Nassau Hall

Now, Campbell’s team can combine passion with data analysis to advance its mission. “Today, it’s all about the marriage between the art and the science of fundraising,” she explains. “With Tableau as a tool, we're able to take some big steps in moving the science in the field of fundraising forward.”

Today the Development Office is able to:

  • Reduce human error in data analysis.
  • Promote a big-picture, exploratory perspective on data.
  • Cut time-to-insight in half while improving decision-making prowess.
Our to-do list
“Tableau encourages people to think about the entire question, not just check off that they’ve found the different data elements,” Campbell elaborates. “It encourages a deeper level of thinking and learning rather than just confirmation.” So her team can focus on gathering insights instead of just checking off boxes on a to-do list.

As for us? We’ve still got a to-do list... but Princeton’s inspiring story makes it a whole lot easier for us to check off the last box!

Check out the full interview here.