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Michigan State Guides Fundraisers Through Transformation with Vyond

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Vyond content guided staff through a radical technology change

About MSU University Advancement

Michigan State University is a top-30 public university in East Lansing with a global base of more than 500,000 alumni. The University Advancement department supports critical fundraising efforts by building relationships with MSU alumni, donors, and friends.


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MSU’s University Advancement staff builds relationships that help secure hundreds of millions of dollars in donations each year to support university programs and growth. The department’s operations depend on accurate data, so it’s important that their 300+ busy fundraisers and staff members are trained up on systems and tools — and have the ability to find and input data easily on the go.

In 2021, the department was transitioning to a modern donor relationship platform. “This was one of the biggest changes fundraisers would ever go through here. They were learning a whole new language, all new business rules, new navigation, a brand new system, all in a remote environment,” says Adeline Wharton, Learning Designer and Instructor on the Business Process Improvement & Analysis team. “Even more than usual, this training program had to be engaging. PowerPoint and documents weren’t going to cut it.”

Adeline recognized the team needed a flexible tool that would help them create a variety of training video content. She bought a Vyond license on recommendation from peers at the University of Utah, who had used Vyond to train their staff on the same new platform.

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Adeline, along with Training Specialist Laura Fenger, three volunteer staff members, and three student interns, partnered with subject-matter experts to build out a progressive, multiyear learning program that explained a whole new vocabulary and walked through navigation and workflows. Vyond’s vast asset and template library let the team organize courses into different themes — like a superhero story or “back to school” — to maintain momentum.

Beyond videos, Adeline and Laura also used Vyond to create a library of supplemental program materials, like graphics, quick-reference guides, GIFs, posters, stickers, and thumbnail images. All told, for this project the team delivered 119 documents, 166 Vyond videos, and 170 games based on the videos.

Because the training team was creating their content while the tech team was still building out and customizing the platform, there was a need to make constant edits. But Vyond’s user-friendly platform made adjusting on the fly simple. “Vyond made updates so much easier and helped us stay organized through the whole process,” Adeline says.

How Vyond helped

The new platform successfully launched in July 2023, in parallel with the old tool being phased out.

“This project was like the beginning of Wizard of Oz: we started in black and white, and by the end, we were all in color. It was a huge change. And Vyond helped us get there,” says Laura.

Feedback about the training has been extremely positive thus far: fundraisers report they “felt well prepared” to make the switch. And one fundraiser said that, at a conference with peers from other universities, they were able to show someone who was in the midst of the same transition how to do a workflow in the new tool.

Though the huge project has wrapped, Adeline and Laura say they continue finding new ways to use Vyond that improve their communications. Some of their current favorites include microlearning videos, enhancements to PowerPoint slides, GIFs for emails and intranet articles, graphics, and virtual Zoom backgrounds. “If an email has a Vyond GIF at the beginning, it’s much more likely to be read,” says Laura.

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Our Vyond content is more effective at getting noticed across the department.

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Adeline Wharton
Learning Designer and Instructor, Business Process Improvement & Analysis

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