Features | July 16, 2020
To Reach Donors, Direct Mail Delivers
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges and universities across North America had become increasingly reliant on philanthropy as governments decreased funding for higher education. Now, donor support is more vital than ever before to support operations, minimize tuition increases, fund scholarships and student aid packages, and more.
At Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, the Department of University Advancement has used direct mail year-round. Three to four times a year, its annual giving team sends customized appeals and high-impact printed pieces to alumni, parents, retired faculty and staff, and others. The goal is to accurately segment recipients (based on past donation levels, fields of study, demographics and other data) to deliver timely, resonant messaging.
“For us, success requires high attention to detail,” says Sarah McKinnon, CFRE, annual giving officer at Carleton University. “When we’re sending something out to donors and alumni, we want to make sure it hits the right note and goes to the right person at the right time. If there’s an error, it could sour a relationship and lead to negative consequences.”
So, Carleton University partnered with BMR Group (bmrgroup.ca) to ensure its direct mail efforts were on time, on budget and error-free. The institution targeted active and potential donors in a campaign called “Here for Good.” Segments of the school’s 165,000-plus alumni and other donors received direct mail pieces that underscored the university’s commitment to promoting diversity, celebrating the power of education and making a difference to communities.
For this and other direct mail programs, Carleton University — which, at the time of writing, was considering holding smaller and/or online classes in fall 2020 due to the pandemic, according to an Ottawa Citizen report — has relied on BMR’s data services. These include best practices for data protection, variable data technology for highly targeted copy and graphics, and address-accuracy software for “clean” mailing lists.
“For all our campaigns, we can rest assured that BMR is double- and triple-checking everything,” McKinnon says. “They’re openly communicating with us to offer helpful considerations and to answer our questions. There’s such an ease to working with them.”
The results? Donors funded several important initiatives, including a new collaborative research center for the Sprott School of Business; a fund to help homeless youth in Ottawa; and hundreds of other programs in the arts, athletics, business, health, the environment and science.
Direct mail programs also have helped the university bring in approximately $92 million in research funding and more than $24 million in scholarships, according to the university’s Office of Institutional Research & Planning.
“With excellent customer service and a friendly, professional approach, you know you’re in good hands every step of the way,” McKinnon says. “BMR offers thorough, budget-conscious service,” and its team “goes the extra mile every time to help you connect with your community and your donors.”
Interested in learning how the print industry plays a larger role in higher education? Read "The Enduring Power of Print in Higher Education Marketing," by John Delavan in the June/July issue of PS Magazine, in mailboxes or available online in the PS Magazine Library.
Business/Growth Strategies Distributors/Resellers Direct Mail