Using Competition to Boost Young Alumni Giving

Posted on 06/11/2013

Salisbury Postcard“Our young alumni participation rate was relatively low,” said Susan Auchincloss, Director of Annual Giving at Salisbury School, “and we wanted to find a way to increase it without sacrificing the amount of money we raise.” She knew this would be no easy task in a world where recent graduates are hard to reach, attention spans are limited, and competition for charitable donations is fierce. So they decided to launch a month-long challenge called The February Faceoff. It included three key components:

Competition – During the month of February, gifts from the classes of 2000-2012 to Salisbury’s Annual Fund were recorded and displayed along with the comparable class results from six of Salisbury’s peer schools. Using “Us vs. Them” as a slogan, the challenge tapped into the school’s competitive spirit. Each class also designated a “captain” to ignite some internal competition between classes and build a strong network of volunteers to spearhead the challenge.

Integration – Over the course of one month, every recent graduate received a carefully orchestrated wave of appeals using new (email, social media) and traditional (direct mail, phone) media. The goal was to make it easy for alumni to contribute in a way that was convenient for them.

Personalization – Starting with a postcard (which contained a QR code) and followed by four weekly email appeals, alumni were driven to a personalized online giving page (i.e., a PURL) which contained specific pre-determined ask amounts based on giving history, class year, and estimated giving potential.

The February Faceoff proved to be a huge success as Salisbury’s young alumni participation rate doubled from 8% to 17%. The amount of money donated to the Annual Fund by young alumni doubled too, with nearly 43% of donors contributing $100 or more. And, if that’s not impressive enough, the campaign inspired an anonymous donor to make a $10,000 gift in honor of the challenge.

Go Crimson Knights!

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