Quantifying program success at MIT Sloan

“We will certainly come to Haven Insights again in the future, and pass their name on to others at MIT.”

In early 2016, administrators at MIT Sloan’s Sustainability Initiative partnered with Haven Insights to enhance their approach to applicant recruitment and student engagement. After 10 years of existence, the Initiative’s alumni base had grown large enough to provide a robust sample for detailed survey data, whereby graduates were asked about their experience in the program and how they think the Initiative can improve.


Established in 2006, MIT Sloan’s Sustainability Initiative (MSSI) is a six-course Master’s program that possesses a unique blend of business and natural resource coursework. Its purpose: to create leaders and innovative thinkers to tackle the world’s sustainability challenges. To accomplish this, the Sustainability Initiative labors to attract the best graduate students from around the world.


To attract ideal candidates and maintain valuable relationships with its graduates, MIT Sloan opted to revitalize its administrative work. So, its administrators crafted a survey and partnered with Haven Insights to answer the following questions:

  1. What were the determining factors for students in choosing MIT Sloan’s Sustainability Initiative?
  2. Who were MIT Sloan’s greatest competitors for prospective students?
  3. What elements of MIT Sloan’s Sustainability Initiative was of greatest value to its graduates?
  4. What effect did the education at MIT Sloan have on students’ involvement in Sustainability post-graduation?


After consulting with the Sloan Initiative’s administrative team, Haven Insights connected with hundreds of alumni via an online survey to answer these research questions. Once sufficient data had been collected, they applied standard survey data cleaning procedures to identify statistical outliers, cross-examine variables to remove inconsistencies, and remedy incorrect and missing values. This narrowed the data sample to include only high-quality feedback–a final sample of almost 100 detailed responses.

At this point, Haven Insights performed a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis using the final, cleaned data set. The SWOT’s results shed light on both internal and external factors affecting the Initiative’s enrollment and graduate satisfaction. The tabulated data was then cross-examined to identify areas of improvement for MIT Sloan’s administrators, based both on Haven’s “unaided” analysis of the raw data alone, as well as “guided” analysis driven by Initiative directors and others with unique insights and hypotheses about how this data should be understood in context.

In August of 2016, Haven Insights presented Initiative administrators with key findings and overall statistics. Among the takeaways were two major findings: The Initiative was under-utilizing some of its strongest resources in marketing their program, and its students, while highly-satisfied, were graduating from the program with some unfulfilled expectations.


Since the report’s final submission, many of the project’s highlights have begun to manifest themselves through enhancements to the Initiative’s programming:

  • MIT Sloan added detailed biographies for each of their professors on the Sustainability Initiative website. (58% graduates considered “Faculty and Staff” as the highlight of their Sloan experience, but the effects of “Faculty and Staff” on students’ decisions to attend MIT Sloan were negligible in the survey data.)
  • In 2017, MIT Sloan plans to collaborate with the Hitachi Foundation to launch a Good Companies, Good Jobs Initiative for their Sustainability program.
  • In 2017, Sloan’s Sustainability Initiative plans to deepen existing corporate relationships and cultivate collaboration with companies who can offer S-lab projects, internships, and jobs. (Only 1% of survey responses indicated that career support was one of the highlights of the program. However, 17% indicated that career support ranked as one of their top-three reasons for choosing MIT Sloan’s Sustainability Initiative).

“The report [Haven Insights] did for us was really appreciated, and we’ve heard multiple times what a great job [they] did,” said Lea Rutledge, Principal at Rutledge Advisors and adviser to MIT Sloan’s Sustainability Initiative. “We will certainly come to [them] again in the future if needed, and pass their name along to others at MIT.”

Contact us to learn more about how Haven Insights can help improve your organization’s programming and stakeholder satisfaction.

Boosting donor engagement at Grove City College

“This survey has been our most successful method for driving traffic to our new planned giving site.”

Why do alumni give back, and what makes them want to give more? These were the questions asked by Grove City College, which partnered with Haven Insights in late 2016 to gain a deeper, more holistic perspective of their alumni donor base.


Grove City College is a Christian liberal arts college that “equips students to pursue their unique callings through an academically excellent and Christ-centered learning and living experience distinguished by a commitment to affordability and its promotion of the Christian worldview, the foundations of free society, and the love of neighbor.” The College enjoys a large and diverse alumni network bonded by the College’s unique “faith and freedom” mission—a strong incentive for alumni engagement.


But successful alumni engagement is becoming an increasingly vital part of Grove City College’s—and every private college’s—future. While Grove City College’s tuition remains far below the national average for private liberal arts colleges, subsidized tuition at state-funded institutions mean the the average tuition-plus-fees difference between public and private colleges exceeds $100,000—a daunting number for any family, equaling more than half of median income.

So to continue and enhance it’s success in engaging alumni, Grove City College partnered with Haven Insights to answer the following questions:

  1. To what extent do donors understand the impact of their gifts?
  2. How, and how frequently, do donors engage with communications from the development office?
  3. To what extent do donors feel connected to the life of the College?

After extensive consultations with the College’s development team, Haven Insights designed an extensive, online donor perceptions survey for the alumni relations department to send, via email, to alumni-donors. The survey covered topics from general satisfaction and communications effectiveness to forecasting and planned giving. In the end, the survey instrument met the College’s needs for enhanced insights, as well as uncovering donors’ perceptions of the College’s success in reaching out to them and asking for gifts.

Beyond survey design, programming and administration, Haven Insights conducted an in-depth analysis and presentation of the survey data that segmented results along a number of metrics, shedding light on how alumni-donor perceptions differ across age, gender and prior engagement, as well as across a number of other metrics and characteristics specifically noted by Grove City College as relevant to their development effort. The findings both confirmed existing preconceptions and raised new questions among the development team, who will use this research to optimize and enhance communications with donors in the coming years.


Here are some highlights from the project:

  • 20% response rate for 5,000+ survey recipients (almost 1,000 survey responses)
  • 400+ unique visits to the College’s new “planned giving” webpage
  • Dozens in inquiries on planned giving—to download and/or receive planned giving brochures in the mail

Overall, donors’ high engagement with the survey instrument—a testament to both the College’s careful work with donors and Haven Insights’ project management—contributed to what ultimately became one of Haven Insights’ most exciting projects of 2016.

“This survey has been our most successful method for driving traffic to our new planned giving site,” said Brian Powell, Senior Director of Development at the College.

Contact us to learn how we can empower your organization with real-world data insights about your donors, alumni or other stakeholders.