Case Study 03

Strategized and Implemented Multi-Channel Fundraising Campaign—Increasing Alumni Donations by 1130%, with 85% More Alumni Donating


  • Alumni giving and interest in content was stagnant. With mailings and email appeals going out over a two month period—the first beginning in one week, I was asked how could we increase alumni giving.
  • I saw an opportunity to inspire alumni to connect with their alma mater through good content that relates to the target audience.
  • Our Alumni Director had done interviews with student, and our Senior Editor had worked with our Historian to create stories about Curtis milestones. Alumni, who once attended the school would likely love to know what current student are doing as well as revisit stories from Curtis past. Theory: repurpose great content + inspire connection = more giving.



After meeting with our Alumni Director I sketched out a promotion strategy, gathered content and images, coded and designed emails, designed mailers, and executed various campaigns. The result was an effective donor fundraising campaigns: alumni donations increased 1130% (not a typo), plus 85% more alumni donated. Clearly, giving had not been a high priority for most alumni in years before. Providing them content and stories they were interested in versus an unemotional ask for support proved vital and hopefully inspired the department to continue this strategy.

My Approach

  • When someone walks in your office, sit down and gather information. Zone in on the ultimate objective and the timeline after you let them present their need and ideas attached. Is there a goal—either financial or aspirational? Are there any requirements you should know that will help move the project along with less bumps (a key stakeholder hates green, you only have $200 budgeted, it's needed tomorrow). And, get to asking when it’s needed by and how much the budget is at least a third of the way through.
  • After our brainstorming and gathering session I sketched out a plan and create a list of materials I needed: copy from the interviews, photos, and asked again if there were any must haves (donor recognition, etc.) we hadn't covered.
  • I tend not to create three options. I build a first proof and circulate to stakeholders and work through the design cycle, contact printers for estimates and to ensure your job gets done on time.
  • I like to follow up for feedback and analytics. In this case it was awesome to hear stories of alumnus who had never reached out to the Alumni Director calling or emailing thanking her for sharing what students were doing and reminding them of their time at Curtis.

© 2020 Walter Beck, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania