Customer Stories:

Gonzaga University uses direct mail to reach donors with an IRA Rollover message


Gonzaga University is a private Jesuit university located in Spokane, Washington. Ryan Hershey is responsible for spearheading communications related to the Annual Campaign, which involves designing and implementing strategies to garner annual support for GU and stewarding donors by demonstrating impact.

The Challenge:

The Gonzaga team needed to prepare donors aged 70 and over for the potential passage of IRA rollovers, while also encouraging alumni to take advantage of the tax benefits by making their gifts via this avenue by the year’s end.

Why evertrue:

Direct mail was identified as the correct medium to connect with this demographic. Using Pledgemine – EverTrue’s direct mail solution – the team created the “Sit, Stand, Rollover” campaign format. This was chosen because of its self-mailer design and clear visibility of the header when folded and unfolded. The format provided the necessary space for including information for both scenarios, considering the passage of the IRA rollover law was uncertain.

The results:

The campaign successfully achieved its objectives, with a number of gifts coming in through IRA rollovers. Not all constituents in the targeted age group would have responded to a similar email – demonstrating the effectiveness of this mail piece in reaching this specific audience.

The Format: “Sit, Stand, Rollover”

The “Sit, Stand, Rollover” concept had been used in previous years, featuring Gonzaga University’s iconic bulldog image. However, the Rollover Campaign took this concept to a whole new level.

The decision to use this format was not arbitrary. Ryan and his team appreciated the self-mailer design, which made it easy for recipients to interact with the content. Additionally, they liked that the header was clearly visible both when the mailer was folded and unfolded, making it instantly recognizable.

Another key factor was the size of the format, which accommodated all the information they wished to include. Importantly, considering that the passage of the IRA rollover law was not guaranteed, they needed to provide information for both scenarios. This format allowed for that additional space, ensuring they could cover all their bases.

The Target Audience: Alumni Aged 70 and Older

Segmentation played a vital role in their strategy. The intended audience for the Rollover Campaign was alumni aged 70 and older. This group constituted approximately 7,000 people, making up about 5-6% of their database.

They began by identifying alumni in the appropriate age range and then further divided them into two priority groups: first-class and non-profit. This division was based on how likely they felt each group was to make a gift. Interestingly, the messaging was the same for both groups, emphasizing the equality of the campaign’s message.

Achieving the Objectives: Success and Results

So, did the Rollover Campaign achieve its objectives? The answer is a resounding “yes!” Ryan and his team successfully prepared their donors for the potential passage of IRA rollovers, and they managed to encourage alumni to take advantage of the tax benefits associated with this vehicle. Gifts flowed in through IRA rollovers, validating the campaign’s effectiveness.

In Ryan’s own words, “We were glad to have sent the mail piece, as not all of our constituents in this specific age group would have responded to a similar email.” Tailoring communication methods to specific target demographics works, reinforcing the power of direct mail in engaging this particular audience.