Bob's Annual Fund Briefcase Bob's Briefcase is a collection of resources saved from Bob's monthly e-mail newsletter and from his work as the moderator of FundList.
BYU's "Ode to a Donor" Audio Email Stewardship Message
Annual giving stewardship used to be an oxymoron - in a paper-driven annual giving world, the printing and postage budgets were mostly spent soliciting gifts, not thanking donors. But nowadays, the Internet has enabled us to be better relationship-builders in annual giving - how do you adequately appreciate an annual giving donor so that they can't say no to your next gift request? BYU's "Ode to a Donor" email message includes an audio clip of a BYU student reciting her poem in appreciation of BYU donors. It's the kind of warm (and inexpensive) stewardship that can only help with donor retention. See the email message here, and listen to the audio of the poem here.
Berkeley's "Laureates" Direct Mail Brochure What's the best continuing role for direct mail, what should a mailing even look like these days, and what should the messages be? We think one answer is exemplified by UC Berkeley's annual giving appeal brochure. It makes great use of infographics, it celebrates excellence as opposed to talking solely about needs, and it raised more than $100,000 with just a reply envelope enclosed. See the mailing here.
The Culinary Institute's Digital Giving Catalog While it would be prohibitively expensive as a printed appeal, It's a smart use of a digitally-produced document (designed via the Web site issuu) to present a catalog of giving ideas. See the catalog here.
UConn's IGNITE Crowdfunding Program Crowdfunding campaigns are in fashion these days, but the University of Connecticut has the most thoughtful structure for achieving its own institutional development objectives that we've seen. A well-structured process for selecting student projects includes a signed commitment agreement from the students that they will assist in promoting, prospecting and stewarding gifts in support of their project idea. Rather than simply redirecting existing UConn donor interests, the program seeks to attract new donors via the students' own social networks, and obligates them to help provide some of the customized donor stewardship necessary as a result of crowdfunding campaign. Beyond simply offering a new type of giving product, UConn's using it in a strategic way. See the UConn IGNITE site here.
Rice University's "College Battle" Appeal The appeal plays to a central point of affinity for Rice graduates - the residence hall "college" they lived in as students. Different from appeals that focus on class or academic units, the College Battle is another model that succeeds at reminding graduates that their members of the Rice family in general, and their college residence hall in particular. The short-term duration of the appeal (six weeks) means that it's a point of emphasis for part of the year, while allowing the Rice Fund to emphasize other case for support messages at other times. See the Rice College Battle site here.
Westmont College Video Educates Students About "Tuition Freedom Day"
The video features fellow students pointing out - with a smile - that tuition only covers two-thirds of a Westmont education. The symbolic two-thirds point of the academic year becomes "Tuition Freedom Day." Watch the video.
Roses Are Red... Five Favorite Valentine Appeals
year, Valentine's Day becomes a hot topic among schools with high
numbers of alumni couples. While I've not seen a Valentine appeal that
significantly outperformed other appeals, many Valentine appeals are
accomplishing a variety of relationship-building goals:
invited joint annual fund gifts, and also invited couples to share
"TwitPic" photos of themselves on Twitter. "As one of the 6,000 alumni
who have built lives with a fellow Geneseo grad, we imagine you picture
Geneseo through a different lens. Your memories of watching sunsets,
hurrying across the quad and studying in the library are even more
meaningful - because you share them as a couple."
The University of South Dakota
valentine itemizes a number of romance-related expenditures (Dinner and
a movie - $40) but notes that "finding love with another USD Alum" is
priceless." And, "just as the cost of romance has gone up, so too has the
cost of a USD education."
The FundList Briefcase
Looking for lots of sample materials? Rummage around in the FundList Briefcase, the on-line repository that Bob manages in his work as the moderator of FundList. Go to the FundList web site.
New - Check Out Bob's YouTube Briefcase
Web-based videos are now being
incorporated into annual giving program
strategies. Watch some of Bob's current YouTube favorites... Go to Bob's YouTube page.
Boo! A Scary Halloween Appeal From Old Dominion University
ODU has a little frightening fun with its gift prospects at Halloween, with this special spooky solicitation.
New Flash Appeals, Web Sites and Online Strategies of Note
Web-based videos, flashes and other
related appeals continue to be
incorporated into annual giving program
strategies. The standard disclaimers still
apply for any type of annual giving appeal --
if you can't evaluate it, don't do it.
Having said that, here are some of our
current multimedia favorites...
An MIT Power of ParticipationWeb site
that tracks the university's young alumni
annual giving participation challenge, with
up-to-date results, donors, polling and more.
A Boston College flash thank you
message features a performance by the Boston
College Symphonic Band and a direct link to
the donor honor roll.
An interactive complete-the-puzzle flash
appeal from Milton Academythat shows
the impact that "pieces" of all sizes can
have on the Academy.
A Marietta College flash appeal notes
the many great things that are happening on
campus, and notes that the Marietta Fund
helps make all of them possible.
Bob's Favorites From The 2007 FundList Direct Mail Exchange
Watch a 5-minute flash slideshow showcasing Bob's favorite shared samples from the more than 150 institutions that participated in this year's FundList Direct Mail Exchange. Includes audio and takes a few minutes to download, use buttons to advance slides.
Why Support The Connecticut College Fund? Because.
I have the belief that annual fund gifts are made as much for emotional reasons as they are rational reasons. As proof, I offer you the college's annual fund brochure, which answers the question "Why?"
Change The World With A Gift To the Edinburgh Fund
The Stanford alumni market researcher Jerold Pearson has long cited survey evidence that donors like knowing how their institution is helping to change the world for the better through their work.
The University of Edinburgh in Scotland does a nifty job of presenting such a case in its Edinburgh Fund brochure. The appeal talks about the accomplishments of university students and staff that are having an impact on the world -- and how you can support them with even a small gift to the Edinburgh Fund.
The St. Kate Annual Fund Is About Celebrating St. Kate
When I first saw this brochure from the College of St. Catherine, I assumed it was celebrating the conclusion of a successful capital campaign, or a milestone campus birthday. Instead, I was pleased to see that the college was simply celebrating the existence of a great institution like St. Kate!
Bob's Favorites From The 2006 FundList Direct Mail Exchange
Watch a 5-minute flash slideshow showcasing Bob's favorite shared samples from the more than 130 institutions that participated in the 2006 FundList Direct Mail Exchange. Includes audio and takes a few minutes to download, use buttons to advance slides.
Perks For Pizzas? UNCW Offers Cachet For Phonathon Prizes
Not many schools get ahead of the game in their phonathon caller incentive strategy, so we particularly like this brochure from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. The university has thought through the "benefits" it can offer to local merchants that donate gifts to the program -- most at little or no cost to the university.
Prizes help to make the phonathon fun, and also can help to link student motivations with program goals. Some of the most effective phonathon programs we've seen connect incentives with priorities, including credit card payments for gifts, updated email or other contact information, gift upgrades, or even first-time gifts.
Faculty and Staff Appeals Succeed As Peer - Not Presidential - Initiatives
We see too many faculty and staff appeals positioned as heirarchical appeals, with messages from the president or vice president. You're handing your faculty and staff a gift-wrapped opportunity to express any campus frustrations they may have with the leadership of the institution.
In our opinion, faculty and staff giving should be an endorsement of the institution's good work. We love this letter from Whitworth College, written by the campus delivery man, that underscores the point that faculty and staff give because of their love for the institution, and often in spite of the day-to-day things that can frustrate everyone.
Earlham College Bird Appeal Chirps Merrily Along
I first wrote about Earlham College's Birding Big Day appeal in a 1999 CASE Currents article, and the philanthropic flock endures. Each spring, Earlham ornithology faculty venture out one morning to see how many species of birds they can identify on or near campus. Alumni happily pledge to the annual fund a certain amount based upon the number of species identified. Download a pdf copy of the Birding Big Day appeal here.
University of British Columbia Invites Donors To See Benefit of Their Gifts First-Hand
UBC's not shy about their donor stewardship. The annual list of donors has "What Difference Did It Make?" as its title, and includes a full list of ways that a donor can visit and see first-hand the benefit of gifts to the university. Download an excerpt from the UBC report here.
Roger Williams University Uses Tongue-In-Cheek (and Rear-In-Seat?) Approach to Parent Fundraising
We've seen lots of engraved bricks in annual giving, but here's a twist compliments of RWU. For parents hopeful that their children will spend enough time studying in the campus library, a chair engraved in their honor helps to provide a not-so-subtle reminder. Download a pdf copy of the RWU parent appeal here.
Berklee College of Music Links Alumni Relations, Annual Giving and Flash
Schools are still learning how to incorporate flash technology into their advancement programs, and they're trying to learn how to evaluate it at the same time. Here's one interesting example from the Berklee College of Music that combines alumni relations, annual giving, email and the Internet, and the holidays all into one delightful flash email announcement. Watch the Berklee email by clicking on the icon at left. (Requires Macromedia flash player on your computer.)
See What The Oberlin Fund Benefits - Everything.
An annual giving advertisement in the alumni magazine isn't a substitute for asking for a gift, but it can help reinforce your message and your case for support. I always enjoy creative ideas for making the case for unrestricted gift support, and Oberlin College has a nifty ad for the Oberlin Fund that points out how support of the Oberlin Fund helps ensure quality in all corners of the college. Download a pdf copy of the Oberlin Fund ad.
Muskingum College Sends Love - And An Appeal - To Its "Muskie Mergers" Many schools have flirted with the idea of communicating with, and soliciting, couples who met on campus and are now married. Here's a 2005 direct mail sample, compliments of Muskingum College. Note how the mailing cleverly ties the rising "cost of campus romance" with the rising costs of a college education. Download a pdf copy of the Muskingum College Valentine's Day appeal here...
U. of Portland Rating Scale Measures Alumni Affinity Presented at the CASE Assembly in 2004, the University of Portland's alumni involvement rating scale is a good attempt at answering an old question: How do we measure alumni affinity? The scale awards varying numbers of points for a variety of ways alumni can "engage," from updating their email to attending their reunion. Download a pdf copy of the University of Portland's Alumni Involvement Rating Scale here...
Davidson "Top Ten List" Flash Appeal Targets Young Alumni Davidson College designed a flash appeal targeted specifically at young alumni (the most likely crowd to receive it, and open it). The appeal emphasizes the importance of gifts of any size - an appropriate young alumni marketing message. Finally, its interactive and humerous design is guaranteed to grab and hold the shortest of attention spans. Watch Davidson College's young alumni flash appeal here...
Do We Need An Annual Report Of Giving? I get asked this question often. Schools in the U.S. tend to forget that an annual report is as much a marketing document as an accounting document. Show your prospects how they're supposed to behave! Schools in the U.K. are working hard to establish a philanthropic culture, and their donor annual reports reflect it - with very deliberate message points, testimonials, and (of course) lists of donors. The University of Warwick is one good example - look at how the student callers are treated like they're celebrities. Download this excerpt from the University of Warwick's Benefactor report. (List of donors omitted.)
Hopkins Uses Flash Video To Promote Annual Giving When I feature samples of flash email appeals in speeches, this Johns Hopkins appeal always generates the most "oohs and aahs." Great picture images and even orchestral strings teach Johns Hopkins University prospects that at Hopkins, it isabout rocket science, and about all the other great things that go on at JHU. Watch the JHU flash video here.
Annual Fund Celebrates A Penn "Day In The Life" Here's another example of an unrestricted gift appeal that doesn't have to be painful. Through this hour-by-hour "Day in the Life" The Penn Fund points out all the good things that happen on campus every day, and how "unrestricted" gifts to the Penn Fund help support all of them. Download a pdf copy of "A Day in the Life" here.
Senior Giving is connected to... Consecutive Giving is connected to... Alumni Giving Many schools run successful senior gift campaigns, and almost as many are stumped about what to do the next year. Here's a piece from Connecticut College that ties it all together, by expressing specific appreciation to those first-year graduates that make a gift following their senior year. At the same time, it inducts them into a consecutive giving society that they'll only stay in if they continue to make gifts. Download a pdf copy of the thank you here.
Here Come The Video Appeals The age of the video annual giving appeal is upon us, and it helps if your appealer already has broadcasting experience. In the case of Ohio University, both Matt Lauer of the Today Show and Leon Harris of CNN have contributed their skills on behalf of the Bobcats. See all the OU appeals at its web site here.
Watch The KSU Telefund! The Kansas State University Telefund program was featured in Bob's book, Innovations in Annual Giving. To watch a RealVideo clip all about the KSU Telefund program, click on the movie icon at the right.
(Your computer must be able to play RealMedia files, and the file may require time to download.)
The Unrestricted Gift I encounter many schools that struggle to make an effective case for unrestricted annual gift support. Wesleyan University's "8-point Case For Annual Gift Support" does it with simplicity and eloquence. Too many schools conclude that their prospects "don't accept" their unrestriced case, when a little more creativity might go a long way.
A Card To Send, At Year's End! We loved the year-end giving reminder postcard sent by Colorado College. The card capitalized on the promotion of the holiday film The Cat In The Hat, while giving CC alumni a gentle reminder about their year-end gift. To download a copy of the card, click here.