The Insider's Guide: Implementing a Community Engagement Platform in Higher Education

Curious about what goes into implementing a new community engagement platform for campuses, institutions, cities, and more? 

Learning essential tips from campuses that have gone through the process can be highly beneficial when planning your implementation strategy or considering bringing on a community engagement platform. 

During our most recent webinar, we got the opportunity to hear insider tips and tricks from two of our partner campuses, John Carroll and Elon University, for starting with GivePulse and integrating the platform into your campus and community. 

Both campuses have been with GivePulse for over four years and have broad adoption across their campus and communities. Their insider tips for GivePulse offer great insight into whether you want to implement a community engagement platform in the next week, month, or year! 


Image of a historical building on the Elon University Campus in the spring with trees in the background


Bring in key stakeholders upfront

When starting with GivePulse, or any campus-wide community engagement system, it is essential to bring in key stakeholders at the beginning of the process. 

This could be community partners with which your institution, organization, company, etc., have a working relationship, your IT department, and any additional departments that need to use and educate on the platform. 

Doing so helps ensure you have a strong base of users, departments, and partners who understand what the system does and, most importantly, how to use it. 


Plan Ahead

As the great saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day - it takes time, dedication, and creativity to bring a community engagement platform to life. 

Calling on the experience from one of our partner campuses at John Carroll University, they worked a year and a half before going live with the system. But what goes into that year and a half of planning? Getting departments on board, preparing faculty, training an initial group of students/users, outreach to community partners, data syncing, and more.


Test the data

When adopting a new community engagement or service-learning system, you want to protect your data at all costs! Before switching systems and migrating data, be sure to test the integrity of your data, run both systems side by side to make sure outputs are the same, and take the time to work through any data migration issues before going live. 

Testing data is one of the most critical steps in adopting or transitioning from an old platform. Either way, you don't want anything to get lost along the way.

Taking the time to troubleshoot your data until you, your department, and your IT team are 100% confident there are no errors will set the foundation for the broad use of the system and give you peace of mind that data errors are less likely to occur. 


Training, Training, training!

As with anything, training goes a long way in the longevity of the use of your new system. When users and administrators feel confident, comfortable, and, best of all, excited to use the platform, we see the highest amount of use for the most extended period. 

Although GivePulse is constantly making updates to enhance useability and user experience, with hundreds of functionalities, it can be challenging to jump right in without basic training. 

Before going live with the system, our partners at Elon and John Carroll say that training is the most crucial part of long-term use of the system. Train everyone from your key stakeholders, all faculty/staff, students, users, volunteers, community partners, and more (even if they don't need to know everything about the platform). 

Pro tip: Identify a working group of students to fully train on the platform's user and administrator functions to be a resource to other students, users, or volunteers new to the platform. 


Utilize the GivePulse Team

Both Elon and John Carroll University partners suggest when getting started with GivePulse, use the GivePulse support team for training events and resources! At GivePulse, we want you to have the best possible experience with the platform and to ensure that we host several weekly training sessions in addition to our regular webinar schedule. Additionally, GivePulse hosts a comprehensive knowledge base with detailed answers to any of your platform questions!

When getting started with GivePulse, there is an 8-week onboarding process where GivePulse account managers work with you and your team along the way working through how to use the platform, how to train students, users, faculty, staff, and community partners as well as helping you navigate any data migrations. Our team is always happy to hop on a call if you are experiencing a complicated issue or have a question about functionality! 


Chat with campuses that have already launched GivePulse

Do you know a campus that uses GivePulse, or even one that uses GivePulse in a similar way/scope? Reach out and see if they have any insights or learnings from using the platform (maybe their own tips and tricks). 

Getting a first-hand look at GivePulse in use will help to understand the system better, how it is used, and the benefits of having everything from service-learning opportunities to courses on the system. 


Collaborate on Funds cross-departmentally

Are you looking to bring on a community engagement platform but need help securing funds for the platform? Take a tip from Elon University, and consider collaborating with other departments on campus to bring the platform to your campus!

Elon University exemplifies this tip by collaborating with the Athletics department on campus to contribute funds for GivePulse. When considering platform adoption, explore other departments that would benefit from the platform and seek collaboration. GivePulse has value for all departments on campus, so if you need help securing resources, reach out and see if other departments are willing to join forces. Many of our campus partners have adopted the platform at an enterprise level securing institutional funding to support community engagement across the campus.


Create a working group to bridge the campus divides

Often times one Center in a particular division will oversee the use of GivePulse and drive its implementation on campuses. 

To start, identify partners, units, departments, centers, and programs who would be enthusiastic about joining the platform to support their community engagement initiatives. Work together with these stakeholders to coordinate outreach efforts to local community and campus partners. By developing a working group, you can ensure community partners are familiar with the platform and create a resource-sharing space.


Celebrate your success!

Coordinating a large-scale, campus-wide rollout of a new community engagement platform is a huge undertaking, and it's important to celebrate the small victories! Recognize the milestones achieved during the implementation of GivePulse. This will keep morale high and maintain excitement among stakeholders.



We hope these tips and tricks from our partners at Elon and John Carroll University provide valuable insights into the effective adoption and utilization of GivePulse so you can maximize the benefits of the platform on your campus.

GivePulse is here to support you every step of the way. Our dedicated team is available for training sessions, webinars, and assistance with any issues or questions you may have. We're committed to ensuring you have the best possible experience with our platform. 

Ready to empower your students and uplift your partners by streamlining your institution's community-based learning initiatives? Schedule a demo with GivePulse today!

About GivePulse

GivePulse's mission is to enable everyone in the world to participate and engage in lifting their community to new heights. We do so by providing a platform to list, find, organize, and measure the impact of service-learning, community engagement, philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, and volunteerism.

Founded in 2012 in Austin, Texas, GivePulse works with 650,000+ groups, including colleges and universities, nonprofits, businesses, K-12/school districts, and cities and municipalities. Together, we connect millions of people in an effort to create positive social change.

Start making a difference today by visiting