Alumni and Friends Do It Again on May 10 at Saint Peter’s University
How the University exceeded the goal of gaining 424 donors in 24 hours
Angeline Boyer, Media Relations Officer, Saint Peter’s University, walks you through the successful campaign.
Many phones belonging to alumni and friends of Saint Peter’s University rang on May 10. On the line were representatives from the Office of Advancement and External Affairs, who diligently dialed numbers to inform individuals about “Let’s Do It Again May 10,” a campaign designed to acquire 424 donors in 24 hours on May 10, 2013.
“Let’s Do It Again May 10” was a follow up campaign to last year’s “Let’s Get it Done June 1” initiative to obtain 140 donors on June 1, 2012 in honor of the university’s 140th anniversary. The campaign was extremely successful, as the first-ever historic event exceeded original targets with a final count of 382 donors.
As part of the university’s larger campaign, Students at the Center: The Campaoign for Saint Peter’s University, the 24-hour “Let’s Do It Again May 10” campaign enabled the entire advancement team to work together to engage potential donors and work towards meeting a specific goal. Enter a catchy new campaign name and new goal that charged the university with getting 10 percent more donors than the previous year. Mission accomplished! Supporters answered the call as Friday’s daylong event exceeded original targets, with a final count of 458 donors and more than $86,000 raised for the university.
“I knew our alumni and friends would answer the call, but this exceeded my wildest expectations,” said manager of annual giving Donna Lindsey. “I am heartened by the response we received for ‘Let’s Do It Again May 10.’ The generosity is inspiring, and demonstrates that we have a large support base that believes in the university and its mission.”
In addition to contributors giving generously over the phone, gifts were also collected from an online site dedicated to the “Let’s Do It Again May 10” effort, which was developed by The Ballantine Corporation. Gifts were also collected from Saint Peter’s students and employees throughout the campus community.
Contributions of any amount were accepted—postcards and emails distributed to potential donors before the event announced that gifts of all sizes can go a long way in providing scholarship funds, textbooks, upgraded software for computer labs throughout campus, and even gas to transport students for a Global Outreach service trip. Gifts—both large and small—were acquired, from gifts of $3 to help support the effort to a generous $10,000 gift.
The Strategy—Start to Finish
The strategy behind this effort was to build buzz and awareness in advance of May 10. The campaign outreach specifically consisted of two postcard mailings, various email blasts, social media outreach and personalized URLs.
- The target audience: Since the goal of the campaign was to gain as many donors as possible in 24 hours, the team targeted individuals who have been engaged with the university within the last few years, whether as recent graduates or recent donors.
- The first 5x7 postcard read, “424 donors. 24 hours. Let’s Do It Again May 10,” on the front and gave examples of donation amounts on the back. This postcard was distributed to approximately 16,000 individuals—alumni couples, regardless of their giving history; any alumnus who made a gift of $5 or more since the year 2000; and all graduates of the last decade regardless of their giving history. Alumni couples are an important target group because one gift counts for two donors, which boosts Saint Peter’s alumni participation rate. Graduates of the last decade were also significant prospects for this particular campaign because the sense of urgency and the online component appeals to that particular generation.
- The second 5x7 postcard led with the text, “Saint Peter’s University is reaching higher. You can help us reach our goal of recruiting 424 donors in one day! Every gift and every donor makes a difference.” This mailing list was pared down to include only donors who had given in fiscal year 2011 or 2012, but not the current fiscal year. The second postcard was received within a week of May 10. These donors are also significant because it is important for the university to retain them year-to-year.
- Each postcard also included the personalized URLs or PURLs, which were created by The Ballantine Corporation. The PURL brought potential donors to a personalized landing page, which displayed a countdown clock to the number of days that were left until May 10. There was also a pre-populated form that donors could easily submit to sign-up for a reminder to give on May 10.
- The university also utilized email and social media to build awareness. The emails were designed to drive people to their personalized URLs for more information and to request a reminder call to make a gift on May 10. On May 10, three emails were distributed to a list of approximately 10,000 individuals and regular social media updates were posted on the university’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
- Beyond calls from the Office of Advancement and External Affairs, Ruffalo-Cody was also involved in the outreach process. The team of Ruffalo-Cody was specifically responsible for calling the Class of 2012 and ultimately had a response rate of approximately 50 percent.
Directed Donations Make an Impact
Donors were directed to give to a number of noteworthy priorities, such as the Mac Mahon Student Center, which opened in March 2013. However they had the option to give to the unrestricted fund or whatever program or initiative that was most meaningful to them. Providing them with a specific direction for their donation showed the immediate impact of their gift.
Michael A. Fazio, vice president for advancement and external affairs at Saint Peter’s University, was extremely pleased with the outcome of the ‘Let’s Do It Again May 10’ initiative. “This campaign challenged our team to reach further back and make connections with constituents who we haven’t connected with in some time and get them reengaged with the University. Based on the analysis of the results it seems that we successfully accomplished that goal. It is wonderful to see that our alumni and friends stepped forward to show their belief in all that Saint Peter’s University is and has become.”
Sharing the effects of that impact after the event, the university sent each donor a personalized e-blast highlighting the totals from the 24-hour campaign, along with a thank you. To show further appreciation the donors also received a thank-you note via snail mail, accompanied by a tax receipt of their donation.
Hopefully the 458 donors will return to share in the impact of the campaign next year—we’ll have to wait and see what the new catchy title and goal will be!
Angeline Boyer is the Media Relations Officer in The Office of University Communications at Saint Peters University. She helps to oversee and coordinate internal and external communications including media and public relations, events and programs, and print-based publications.