See the Tuesdays in Brandeis campaign in action
“Devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”
That’s an excerpt taken from the book Tuesdays with Morrie. And that book is the backbone of Brandeis University’s most recent fiscal year-end campaign: “Tuesdays at Brandeis”
Tuesdays at Brandeis played on a common theme for many campaigns: positive feelings towards a mentor who made an impact on their students.
The team put the Brandeis-spin on this by utilizing the sentiment surrounding Mitch Albom ‘79 – author of Tuesdays with Morrie – whose book about his relationship with his sociology professor at Brandeis has made top book charts and reading lists across the country. The results? Countless inspiring stories highlighting how special the Brandeis community is. Numerous alumni engaging with the University. And a donor challenge easily met, unlocking additional funds to support the university.
Let’s dive in to how they made this happen.
In the fall of 2021, Brandeis teamed up with Mitch Albom himself to encourage their community to share stories of their own Morries–people from the university community who made their time at Brandeis special. Stories started pouring in, from those who typically engage with the Univeristy….and those who hadn’t!
After crowdsourcing stories, the team chose four that really resonated (though they admit it was hard to narrow it down!) and released them each Tuesday during the month of June with a call for alums to make a gift in honor of their Morrie.
On Thursdays, they’d follow-up to a more niche groups…like athletic teams, clubs, or specific departments with a more specific call to action. One professor was retiring after 55 years, so a message was sent to the entire department asking for tributes in his honor. An athletic team received a message asking for gifts in honor of their coach. And so on and so forth.
The release of these stories created a perfect path for prospect managers to engage folks on their caseloads at a critical time of year. They were able to have conversations about the Morries of Brandeis, play off of a positive sentiment towards the University, and ultimately engage alumni in a way that extended far beyond a typical solicitation.
Given this campaign’s strong tie to mentorship, LinkedIn was a big player in this. The Morrie stories were shared on social media, with calls to action asking followers to share their own Morries. The buzz around this campaign continued to grow throughout the entire month of June which brings us to….
In the end, Brandeis created something really magical.
The “Tuesday’s with Brandeis” campaign outperformed similar efforts from the previous fiscal year in both donors and dollars. By the end of the campaign, 390 Brandesians had made a gift in honor of their Morries–unlocking $50,000 from a 350 donor challenge–bringing their total FYE campaign dollars to $125,000.
It engaged alumni and donors across the globe–some of which had not previously engaged for quite some time.
And let’s talk about the open rates! Like most institutions, Brandeis was seeing high unsubscribe rates due overcommunication (from all angles!) during the pandemic. Enter ThankView! By sending theses video messages through the ThankView platform, Brandeis was able to break through the unsubscribe barrier and reach some alums they may not have using their email client. Across all 17 campaigns, the average open rate was 54% and click through was 2.7%. BOLD alumni? 42% opens, 2.2% clicks. And..ready for this? Faculty and staff had a 77% open rate, and 19% click rate.
Brandeis created meaningful content that will have legs for years to come. The Tuesday’s with Brandeis campaign allowed alums to think back on some of their most cherished memories at the University, and created a treasure trove of moving, meaningful stories that clearly depict the special community the University creates. These stories can live on in many different iterations…from further alumni engagement, to admissions efforts, and on social media.
How you can replicate this
- Find your Morrie
- Universities far and wide have mentors who really resonate with their students. Your Morrie may not have a book written about them – though maybe your campaign would inspire one! – and that’s okay! Find that special person within your community who will inspire others to take action.
- Put out a call to action
- Once you’ve identified your Morrie, now it’s time to get people to do the thing. The goal is to engage as many folks as possible, so utilize any and all channels you can! Email, direct mail, social media, your student calling program…crowdsource more ideas if you need to.
- Lean into the rabbit holes
- Or as Lindsay Roth, Director of Direct Mail and Participation at Brandeis, says, ”fall down them!” Follow what people are speaking passionately about and the impact those topics have on their lives. Usually, this will align with places they’d like to support philanthropically in the future.
- Focus on good storytelling
- Create good content and the action you’re looking to see will follow.
To tie it back to the quote we started with, good things happen when we lean into the communities our universities create. Thank you, Brandeis, for leading that charge! And thank you to our Morries for inspiring us all.