Holyoke Community College


  • Holyoke, MA
  • Enrollment of 6,800 Students
  • Among the 15 community colleges in Massachusetts, HCC has highest number of students transferring to four-year colleges and universities and awards the second highest number of associate degrees and certificates.
  • AcademicWorks Customer Since 2012

Kim Gifford is the Staff Assistant to the Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the Foundation at Holyoke Community College.  Along with leading up all things technology, Kim is tasked as the key administrator for all Foundation scholarships.

Prior to implementing technology, Kim had some major challenges administering the scholarships for the college. “One of my biggest scholarship challenges was that we did not receive enough applicants for many scholarships,” stated Kim.  Once students had been selected for an award, students were notified with a letter that was mailed to their home. This meant over 200 letters were mailed to students each year. This letter also provided requirements about how to complete their donor thank-you letter.

After implementing AcademicWorks in 2013, many of these processes improved. Having a single scholarship website made advertising easy and they started seeing more applications right away. “We have seen a record number of applications each year we have used AcademicWorks,” said Kim. Notifying students of awards and collecting thank-you letters has also become a lot easier as well. Students are notified via an email from AcademicWorks and are immediately prompted to complete their thank-you letter for the donor. “We receive 100% of thank-you letters from students, and collecting this information online makes it much easier for me to organize and keep track of completed letters,” stated Kim.

Kim heard about AcademicWorks Engage in 2016 as a tool that could take their donor stewardship to the next level. “When I heard about AcademicWorks Engage, my Executive Director and I were excited to see how we could use this tool to increase transparency with donors!” exclaimed Kim.

Prior to 2016, Kim had provided an annual letter to each donor which included current fund financial data and recipient information. These reports were created when the fund data in Excel was merged with donor contact data offline. She also provided an annual thank-you letter from the Executive Director about the student that was impacted from their fund. This letter was mail merged, printed, and manually folded by office staff before mailing. “This process had traditionally been extremely difficult to complete because we were using varying pieces of technology to compile the information for the report and then had to produce a paper report that had to be mailed to the donor,” said Kim.  

With AcademicWorks Engage, donors are given access to see fund financial data including gains, losses, interest earned, etc. This information is updated quarterly, providing donors with more frequent updates and transparency about the performance of their fund throughout the year. Donors are also able to see information about their scholarship recipients including major, hometown, GPA, and the thank-you letter from the student. “We integrate directly with our Raiser’s Edge NXT to seamlessly connect the donor contact information with the scholarship recipient data and publish a personal experience for each donor,” stated Kim. “We invite donors to access a complete view of their fund online. The first donors to access the tool have really enjoyed the experience of online access to this information,” stated Kim. While donors have access to see the impact of their fund they also have the opportunity to give with a Give Now button.

Donors have loved the experience of online access, but the campus also has the flexibility to cater to those donors who wish to continue receiving hard-copy reports. “We are happy that AcademicWorks Engage is flexible enough that it will still create a print version of the report that we can mail to donors who will wish to receive a mailing,” said Kim. “AcademicWorks Engage reduces the workload associated with donor stewardship while keeping donors engaged in the ongoing story of their contribution.”