University at Buffalo – Leadership Appeal

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TitleLeadership Appeal
InstitutionUniversity at Buffalo
Submitted ByKara O'Neil
Assistant Director of Leadership Annual Giving
CategoryDirect Mail Appeals
Institution TypeCollege / University
What fiscal year did this effort occur?2019

A personalized proposal was mailed to leadership annual donors for the calendar year end solicitation, containing a high-end tri-fold folder with personalized solicitation letter, response device and BRE. This was a part of our historic university-wide Boldly Buffalo campaign.

What makes this unique

This piece is distinctive in the level of personalization, the quality of the materials and the format that mimicked our proposals for larger gifts. Previous solicitations for this category of donor were treated as any other, without special attention. Including impact stories with photos and words of the students themselves—further proof that philanthropy changes lives—provided exponential value to this piece. In addition, because of the success of this piece, future CYE solicitations for leadership annual donors will also be a separate and distinct piece.


While the participation rate went up slightly from calendar year-end (CYE) 2017 (4%) to CYE 2018 (4.3%, the average gift amount soared by 111%, from $137 in 2017 to $483 in 2018. In addition, the overall mail response rate for all annual giving solicitations was 1.5%, while the rate for the CYE 18 leadership annual proposal packet was 4.2%. The data indicate that a more thoughtful, personalized approach will garner better results from our calendar-year-end leadership annual solicitations.