Your College May Be Banking on Your Facebook Likes –

Your College May Be Banking on Your Facebook Likes –

EverTrue, which he founded in 2010, enables educational institutions to parse the social media activities of their graduates. The company’s social donor management program, for instance, can evaluate alumni interactions with a college’s Facebook pages to help distinguish those people likely to give to a capital campaign from those more interested in a specific athletic or academic cause. It can also examine profiles of alumni on LinkedIn, a feature that allows fund-raisers to identify people in industries, like finance and technology, or specific companies or executive roles with a historically higher propensity to give.

College development offices have for decades adapted the consumer-profiling techniques used by marketers at for-profit companies. Some schools employ their own in-house researchers to follow, say, the stock market transactions of individual donors or to look up the value of their homes on Zillow. Others buy information from data brokers on their most generous alumni or prospective donors.

At a moment when President Obama is pushing for federal consumer privacy legislation, these nascent donor data-mining techniques demonstrate how easy it is for companies to repurpose the details that individuals volunteer about themselves in one context for a different use.


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