Ideas that Work for the Education Market – Part 1

Posted on by Dave Erlandson | No Comments »

Is the Education Market one of your target markets? If you are planning on selling marketing solutions to the Education Market then you need to have a good understanding of the key challenges for this market. At Caslon we analyzed the PODi case studies in the Education vertical to identify the leading challenges and winning solutions. For the next 3 weeks, our blog will excerpt from the Caslon white paper: Fundraising Solutions for the Education Market.

There are 5 key marketing challenges in the Education market:

    • Fundraising
    • Student Recruitment
    • Alumni Relations
    • Student Communications
    • Document Management

Let’s take a closer look at the issue of fundraising and how it can be tackled with solutions that involve digital printing. Universities today are facing three major fundraising challenges:

    • Increasing the number of donors and the alumni participation rate
    • Increasing the amount of donations
    • Moving donations online (less administrative cost)

Fundraising Challenge #1: Increasing the number of donors and the alumni participation rate

One of the key concerns for any institution, whether it is a private K-12 school or a university, is increasing the number of alumni who are actively making donations. According to Target Analytics during the past decade there has been a decline in the alumni participation rate. Public institutions dropped from 9% to to 8% overall participation and privates were down from 24% to 20% (2009 compared to 2010).

Alumni participation is a special problem among younger graduates, according to Target Analytics. “Younger graduates increasingly view their education as a financial transaction, not a transformational experience as their parents and grandparents did. This trend poses a significant threat to higher education annual giving programs.”

Ideas that Work: Engage alumni to build a relationship

In reviewing successful campaigns in PODi’s database, it is clear that one of the keys to improving alumni participation in fundraising campaigns is to first build a strong connection – even before asking for any monetary donations.

This is exactly what Rosemont College did when they sought to grow their relationship with young alumni. The college felt it was important to establish a connection to this group now, with the hope of encouraging them to become supporting donors in the future.

Rosemont hired Pacesetter Enterprises Inc (Allentown PA) and Digital Innovations Group (Richmond VA) to develop a multi-phase, cross-media campaign. The first phase focused on reconnecting with the alumni in order to cleanse the existing database and add new email addresses and profile information in preparation for future communication initiatives. An email and a direct mail piece were sent simultaneously, encouraging recipients to visit their personalized landing page and share with Rosemont what they had been doing since graduation. The communications were personalized with the recipient’s:

  • Name
  • Graduation year
  • Major
  • Personalized URL(Personalization circled in images)


In the second phase responses were analyzed and another round of communication was sent to alumni, sharing news about each class. This was accomplished through email and direct mail. The goal in this phase was to continue to build the relationship with alumni who responded and to give those who had not responded to Phase 1 another opportunity to participate.

Phase three was the first appeal for donations and was sent to young alumni via email and direct mail. Recipients were encouraged to visit their Personalized URL and make a donation to support Rosemont College. The direct mail piece was personalized with available information on scholarships recipients received and extracurricular activities they participated in.

Rosemont wanted to determine if this level of personalization would have an effect on response rates before investing resources to compile more data in this area. Mailers that included the extracurricular element saw a 24% response rate vs. a 17% response rate for those that did not include this information.

The campaign successfully engaged alumni in preparation for future giving appeals.

  • 23% of alumni visited their personalized landing page
  • 85% of landing page visitors completed an online survey providing more information about themselves
  • 18% of young alumni provided new contact information
  • 26% of the respondents joined Rosemont’s Facebook page.

Ideas that Work: Strengthen the connection with relevant communications

Another key strategy for increasing alumni participation is personalizing communications to make them highly relevant to the recipient. To personalize donation appeals schools and universities can include information on:

  • Graduation year
  • Major area of study
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Teachers/professors
  • Buildings on campus that recipients would have frequented

For examples, see the case studies on Allegheny College and Catholic High School of Little Rock.

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