Posts Tagged alumni

University enjoys double-digit response rates

Alumni Relations Multi-Channel Case Study

Xavier University – Cincinnati, OH


Xavier University is a Jesuit, Catholic university in Cincinnati, Ohio, with a powerful network of more than 60,000 alumni members across the globe. Following a Curtis CampusWise™ workshop, the Annual Funds Coordinator reached out to the local Curtis 1000 Direct Marketing Consultant. After a presentation and discovery meeting, a campaign was created for the Alumni Relations Department to target young alumni to update their contact information and make a soft ask for donations to the annual fund.


Xavier University’s Alumni Relations Department utilized Curtis 1000 to put together a four-part campaign to two young alumni segments: 1-5 years out of school and 6-10 years out of school. The campaign dropped in June and consisted of approximately 8,000 postcards with a PURL and two follow-up email campaigns to non-responders. Xavier University designed all of the pieces, with help from Curtis 1000, and did an outstanding job of capturing a recipient’s attention and appealing to young alumni.

The first piece the target audience received was the postcard with PURL. Upon visiting the PURL, the recipient would first see a short message and be asked to update their contact information. The short message was unique to each segment and addressed their stages of life after graduation. Any contact information currently on file was pre-populated in the fields to make the process faster for the alumni. After updating their contact information, each visitor was taken to a thank-you page with two links: Make a Donation or Visit the Young Alumni Site. Follow-up emails were sent, initiating a spike in visits to the PURL each time.


Xavier University was so happy with the results—a 12% response rate on the PURL, a 13% open rate on the first email, and a 14% open rate on the second email—they have already begun discussions about follow-up campaigns with the updated data received.


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New Approach Nets University Donations and Updated Information

Annual Giving Multi-Channel Case Study

Indiana Wesleyan University – Marion, IN


Indiana Wesleyan University is a Christ-centered academic community committed to developing students in character, scholarship and leadership. The Annual Giving department was already using Curtis 1000 for direct mail campaigns. The Director of Annual Giving was interested in trying a new approach to reach out to alumni, get updated contact information, and solicit donations.


The Annual Giving department utilized Curtis 1000 to put together a four-part campaign to four segments: traditional student alumni, non-traditional student alumni, family, and friends. The campaign dropped in late May and consisted of approximately 20,000 postcards with a personalized URL, a follow-up email campaign, and a follow-up letter campaign. Curtis 1000 designed the full campaign and created high-impact pieces.

The first piece the target audience received was the postcard with personalized URL. Upon visiting the PURL, the recipient would first see a letter from the Dean of the Chapel, and then they would be taken through two survey landing pages, a story request to share a memory, and lastly a thank-you page with a link to Donate Now. Two weeks following the postcard, a follow-up email was sent to anyone who did not respond, which generated a big spike in activity. Later that month, a follow-up traditional direct mail response-marketing piece was sent, still highlighting the PURL but also including a donation form and business reply envelope.


The Annual Giving Director was thrilled with the survey response and the information that was gathered. In the past, they had paid outside firms more and received a lot less information.

Customer Feedback:

Annual Giving Director Kevin Stirratt was impressed with the campaign creativity, commenting that “you get it” and “your design was as creative as anything we have ever produced.”

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“… 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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