The Full Story
The Annual Giving Program at WIU had traditionally employed a combination of methods, including direct mail, Phonathon, and electronic communications, to reach out to its wide audience. The Parents appeal campaign marked a significant departure from previous outreach efforts. Western Illinois University had primarily relied on the Phonathon program to connect with parents, limiting its engagement with this crucial segment of the donor base. This innovative direct mail initiative was conceived to bridge that gap and provide a more effective way of reaching parents and family members.
Objectives of the Campaign
The campaign had two primary objectives. Firstly, it aimed to introduce the Parent and Family Association as a giving opportunity for parents to support the Student Emergency Fund. This fund was designed to provide support to students in times of crisis. Secondly, the campaign sought to expand the donor base for the university.
Choosing the Right Format
The direct mail format was chosen as the ideal way to educate parents and family members about the Student Emergency Fund and introduce them to a student who had benefited from it. This format allowed for a more personal and detailed presentation of the student’s story than a simple phone call could achieve.
Segmentation as a Strategy
The campaign was sent to a test population of about 1,000 parents and family members of sophomore students, representing less than 1% of the university’s database. This served as a trial run to assess the feasibility of expanded direct mail outreach in the future. The positive results have sparked optimism for future campaigns.
Achieving the Objectives
The campaign yielded impressive results. The response rate was approximately 5%, making it a profitable acquisition mailing. Additionally, it proved to be an effective pre-call piece, as Phonathon callers referenced it in their follow-up calls. As a result, conversations about the impact of the fund were more substantial compared to cold calls. The data showed that total Phonathon gifts from sophomore parents were generally 25% higher than parents of other class years.
Cost-Effective and Insightful
One of the most striking aspects of this campaign was its cost-effectiveness. Despite being budget-friendly, it maintained quality and personalization. The success of the Parents appeal provided valuable insights and shaped the scope of parent and family direct mail outreach for the following year. The revenue results were impressive, and the knowledge gained from this campaign will guide future outreach endeavors.
The campaign’s success was achieved without compromising quality or personalization. Furthermore, it offered valuable insights that informed the scope of parent and family direct mail outreach for the subsequent year. The revenue results were promising, and the campaign provided valuable guidance for future outreach efforts. It underlined the potential for continued success in engaging parents and family members in supporting the Student Emergency Fund.