“… it’s my favorite fundraising piece to date”

eCard with rousing music leads to online giving page 

The Challenge:

EMU Foundation is an institutionally related nonprofit corporation that solicits and manages funds on behalf of Eastern Michigan University. Its primary mission is to provide additional support to the students, programs, services and educational community of EMU.

In the fall of 2010 EMU Foundation wanted to kick off a new, year-long fundraising campaign that touched its complete alumni base and increased alumni giving.


In the spring of 2010, Curtis 1000 created and deployed initial and follow-up email campaigns to 60,000 records. After this successful campaign, the foundation utilized Curtis 1000 to craft and distribute an email that featured a custom ecard, a flash animation story.

EMU Foundation knew exactly the type of message they wanted to send and the emotion they wanted the recipients to feel. They also knew the perfect song to use as the audio accompaniment. Curtis 1000 worked to get permission rights to use the song in the ecard.

After the ecard—with its rousing music—finishes playing, there is a prominent “Donate Now” button that leads the recipient to EMU’s online giving page.

The campaign also included a direct mail piece to 16,000 alumni and friends of the university that featured personalized address labels, a first-time project for EMU. This dropped shortly after the ecard. One additional piece of direct mail was sent out 45 days later, following up to make sure the alumnus was enjoying the labels and given a second opportunity to donate if they have not already done so. The second mailing had an “invitation” style look to it with a note from the President of EMU.


Two versions of the personalized email were sent, divided equally among the target audience as an A/B test, to see which brought in a higher response rate. This information can be used for future follow-up emails. Both emails had similar open rates and click-through rates to the ecard—one with a 15.67% open rate and 16.85% click-through rate, and the other with an 18.13% open rate and 11.88% clickthrough rate.

When asked about this experience, Jackie Thorpe, Director of Annual Giving with the Eastern Michigan University Foundation, replied: “The idea for this ecard was to create a poignant message to inform our constituents of our upcoming annual fund campaign. The music and the messaging paired with the production strategy of Curtis1000 resulted in a piece that exemplified the momentum on campus. Curtis1000 took my idea and turned it into the exact piece I had imagined … it’s my favorite fundraising piece to date.”


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  1. #1 by direct response videos on August 29, 2011 - 1:14 pm

    Very interesting information!Perfect just what I was searching for!

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