Auburn University – President's Vision Appeal Letter

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TitlePresident's Vision Appeal Letter
InstitutionAuburn University
Submitted ByLisa Lofland
Development Communications and Marketing Specialist
CategoryDirect Mail
Institution TypeCollege / University
What fiscal year did this effort occur?2018

Auburn University's 19th president outlined a vision for the university’s future in his installation speech. The Development Communications and Marketing team, in conjunction with Annual Fund, created a direct mail fundraising letter designed to introduce this vision to the Auburn Family.

What makes this unique

Please describe the methodology used for the project. Describe your process and strategy used to achieve your objectives.
Because of a large year-end giving appeal and our annual day of giving on Feb. 21, we typically do not do a large appeal in the spring. However, with the momentum and subsequent marketing of a new presidential installation (an historic event), we determined it was important to embrace the new vision and also test its resonance with donors.

We believed a direct mail letter, with the president’s letterhead and return address on the envelope, along with the teaser “A Bold Vision for Auburn’s Future,” would generate curiosity and interest.

The content of the letter highlighted the key concepts of “Inspire,” “Innovate,” and “Transform,” taken directly from the president’s installation speech. It challenged the Auburn Family to support the vision for Auburn University to become a world-class academic, research, and service university in the true spirit of its land-grant heritage.

The response card featured the encapsulated vision. Recipients were encouraged to give either via the online URL or enclosed response card


The direct mail appeal was mailed to 15,806 households, introducing President Leath and Auburn University’s new vision to a key audience.

Of the number mailed 724 donors responded with gifts, raising a total of $130,470 to date for unrestricted funds. This represents a 4.5 percent response rate, above the average benchmark of 2 percent for a successful direct mail piece. Of particular note were respondents who gave via the reply device and handwrote notes to the president, applauding him for the new vision, welcoming him to Auburn University, and encouraging him in his new role. It is highly unusual for us to receive any kind of personal response on a reply device (other than a recipient correcting contact information and filling out gift information). These notes were scanned and sent to the president’s office.

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