Auburn University – Appeal Featuring Student

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TitleAppeal Featuring Student
InstitutionAuburn University
Submitted ByLisa Lofland
Development Communications and Marketing Specialist
CategoryDirect Mail
Institution TypeCollege / University
What fiscal year did this effort occur?2017

To coincide with the beginning of the academic year, Auburn University’s Annual Fund sends out an appeal on behalf of the university’s schools and colleges to solicit funds for unrestricted giving.

What makes this unique

Based on feedback from donors desiring a greater correlation between gifts given and impact on students, Auburn University's Office of Annual Giving and Development Communications and Marketing teams developed an appeal designed to create a greater connection for the target audience between the constituency’s needs and the students who are helped by unrestricted funds. The team worked with the constituencies to identify a student from each school or college who benefitted from these funds. The majority identified are current students, with the exception of two recent alumni. Next, we designed a sidebar highlighting the student, which ran alongside the dean’s accompanying letter which outlined current needs.

The goal was to keep the face of the student at the forefront of the philanthropic ask, including using his or her quote on the reply device, thereby creating a consistent and cohesive look and feel. The reply device provided an option to give online or by returning the enclosed envelope with a check or debt/credit card information.

The letter carried the dean’s signature for authenticity and a personal appeal, reinforcing the call to action on the outer envelope, which also featured the individual constituency’s logo.


This appeal raised $217,463 with 771 gifts from 838 donors, including 51 new donors.

One of the gifts included the creation of a $25,000 endowed scholarship from a donor who was inspired by the student featured in the piece, along with what the the college was accomplishing, thereby uncovering a strong affinity and capacity for future leadership giving.

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