Ben-Gurion Mails to Build $36,000 Donations

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Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel began its first major direct mail campaign in the United States this month to identify $1,000 donors and eventually get them to donate $36,000.


American Associates, the university's New York office, raised $30 million for the school last year, but only about $300,000 through direct mail, said Seth Moskowitz, executive vice president at American Associates.


"This was not a direct-mail-driven organization," he said. "We really only used it as a way to raise money, and after we collected it there was not much cultivation being done. We needed to change how we looked at direct mail. It was not helping us to achieve our goals."


The university decided to use direct mail more strategically as a tool to acquire and cultivate donors into major donors.


"Our targets are people who will donate an average of $36,000 over a period of time or in one donation," he said. "Obviously, this can be a small group of donors, but they make large donations, and our goal became to locate and cultivate these people with direct mail."


The university is using three mailers, each targeting a different audience.


The most ambitious piece went out the first week of October to 6,400 people who made donations of $100 to $9,999 to the university over the past few years. It contains a personalized cover letter asking the recipient to become a charter member of the "Friends of the Negev" by donating $1,000 or more to help provide scholarships. A letter from a student at the school discusses the benefits a donation can provide to students. Also included is a sheet allowing donors to identify what type of donation they want to make and a brochure about the university.


Moskowitz said the goal is to identify donors who will give $1,000 through the mail. The university will follow up in hope of turning them into a $36,000 donor, which can be made in one donation or over a number of years.


A second mailing went last week to 8,000 past donors. It discusses the political situation in Israel, the number of students at the university, research projects at the school and ways a donation can help.


An acquisition mailing went to 50,000 people last week. The aim is to send 600,000 to 1 million acquisition mailings over the next year. The piece talks briefly about the history of the university, what its students are doing and the assistance their financial support can provide.


Mal Warwick and Associates, Berkeley, CA, managed the campaign.


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