DARS programme

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DARS is intended to be the most advanced higher education fundraising database in Europe.  It is a comprehensive tool for development and alumni relations professionals across Colleges, Departments and central University offices.  The main software underpinning the DARS System is Blackbaud CRM.

The most recent DARS Programme reflected the prioritisation the primary objective to ensure a system fit for purpose and compliant with recent data legislation.  Ultimately, this will improve the quality and depth of collegiate-wide lifetime relationships and communications with alumni and friends facilitating an increased fundraising support for Oxford to more than £250m per annum.  One of the primary benefits to be gained from DARS is the enhanced data quality that a robust solution brings to its users.  To maximise fundraising and other relationships, it is essential that staff understand the whole picture of our relationship with donors, alumni and prospects. 

The key objectives of this programme are:

•    Enhancement of user capabilities: to improve core business processes in specific areas that will deliver the greatest benefit to the participant community, including resolution of current gaps in functionality and/or user understanding

•    Improvement of the constituent journey: to utilise technology, data and social media to deliver strategically important benefits to alumni, donors and other prospects, including provision of better online engagement, communications and other responsive interactions

•    Development of a self-assurance programme to review existing DARS governance, rules, processes and functionality relating to areas of compliance to ensure the system framework meets compliance and regulatory requirements, DARS users throughout the University are aware of and meet their responsibilities, and the system and its data is secure

The DARS 2016-19 programme is reaching an end and the Development Office is now overseeing analysis and planning activities to inform the strategy and projects for the Programme Blueprint for the coming years.

The 2016-19 programme completed the following:

  • Continual upgrade of the DARS software, currently on version 4, having recently applied 21 service packs to ensure Oxford is utilising the latest functionality whilst ensuring information and data security is maximised
  • Gift Administration: work to improve the giving process is in progress
  • Audit and Compliance Project: Tranche 1&2 has been completed. Introduction of a range of improvements for the end users, ensuring legislation compliance whilst improving the end user (internal and public) experience

Timeline activity in 2020 will be determined following the completion of the new Programme Blueprint analysis and planning activities.

These are being reviewed as part of the current technology review that the Development Office is undertaking.  


Programme Manager: 
Andrew McWilliam 

Project Managers:
TBC following approval of Programme Blueprint

Business Change Lead:
Klara Minier 

Implementation Officer:
Elliot Martin