Denison University learns how to raise funds through e-mail

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Denison University tapped e-mail marketing services firm BrightWave Marketing for its e-mail marketing campaign aimed at developing relations with alumni while raising money.

In recent years, e-mail marketing has become an important part of the Granville, OH-based liberal arts school's marketing program because of its cost effectiveness, tracking capabilities, the growing use of e-mail and the donor response when contributions were sought through the Internet.

"We chose to use e-mail because we have seen growing numbers of alumni respond favorably to this solicitation medium in the past," said James A. Kenny, assistant director of the Annual Fund for Reunion and Leadership Programs at Denison University. " In addition, since so many Denison alumni, parents and friends have given us their e-mail addresses, it is a very cost effective way to reach our constituent base and ask them for their support."

For the 2006-year end campaign, Denison and BrightWave Marketing, Atlanta, collaborated to create an e-mail campaign that links to a flash presentation. The presentation is aimed at creating an emotional appeal to alumni and at the end of the piece provides an opportunity to contribute to the Annual Fund.

Three different e-mails were sent that were personalized and customized to segmented audiences. The alumni were broken up into three different groups: audience of alumni who had not given during the current fiscal year, audience of alumni who had given during the current fiscal year and alumni who had not contributed in the current fiscal year and did not click on the link to the flash presentation.

The university reports open rates almost as high as 50 percent, while click through percentages were as reached 29 percent. The e-mail campaigns drove more than 5 percent of all annual fund contributions during the campaign.

"We plan to continue to use e-mail for both fundraising and information sharing in the future," Mr. Kenny said. "We send a quarterly e-mail with news updates about Denison to keep them informed about student life at the college. We will also look for strategic opportunities to use e-mail to gain support for Denison."

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