University of Toronto

A highly-customized appeal raises response rates.

The University of Toronto (U of T) is Canada’s leading institution of learning, discovery and knowledge creation and one of the world’s top research-intensive universities. More than 90,000 students from 163 countries attend the University annually.

For our first U of T fundraising campaign in 2011, we conducted interviews with stakeholders from each Faculty, to get to the root of why alumni and other supporters donate. We soon discovered that no singular message would work for all Faculties and donors. We made the bold recommendation to create customized appeals for each Faculty.


Boundless complexity.
One huge success.

Thanks to our highly-customized approach, the response rate surged by almost 70% versus the previous year. Net return per piece increased by a whopping 59%.

Based on our successful execution of this extremely complex direct mail program, ST continues to develop U of T’s annual fundraising appeal for 28 participating divisions, as well as the follow-up mailers and emails — all tailored to each Faculty. The amount of customization has also grown to include targetted messaging for leadership donors and lapsed donors. The pledge form alone has some 40+ variables recognizing donors’ giving history. Now that’s DM cum laude.

“The University of Toronto annual giving program is a complex, multifaceted campaign that supports every area of the University. From segmentation and concept design to production and execution, it is great to work with the team at Stephen Thomas to help support our students, faculty and researchers.”
– Laura Clark, Director, Annual Giving

ST Services Provided

Brand Insights
& Data Analytics

  • Interviews with each participating Faculty to understand donor motivation

Strategy

  • Create customized appeals for each Faculty
  • Establish an overarching theme for brand consistency across all channels: direct mail, email, telefund, digital

Creative & Execution

  • 28 distinct letters with 28 different stories and signatories
  • 28 different data files and lasering – requiring rigorous laser live approvals
  • 28 customized emails
  • 28 reminder letters
  • 28 reminder emails
  • 28 digitally-printed final-reminder brochures
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