The University of Saskatchewan invested more than 10 years in building a donor-centred planned giving program. While they had incorporated stories in an annual newsletter, advertisements and events, they wanted to elevate their proactive planned giving program and generate more leads. That’s when they contacted Good Works to help them implement a story-driven direct mail strategy.

Developing A Story-Based Strategy

As part of the story-based strategy, Good Works had to figure out what made the University of Saskatchewan special and what made donors tick. We spent a day on the campus speaking with both academic and administrative staff, as well as students. We toured the campus and city of Saskatoon where the university is based.  We also reviewed every single piece of legacy communications ever produced, and scrutinized performance, to glean additional insights.

From all of this research, we were able to tease out five key behavioural drivers that were unique to university supporters. We then worked with staff to help us find the best stories to would speak to each of these key motivators and aligned these with priority fundraising needs. We also ensured that each story was told in a way that hit the best autobiographical nuances of legacy persuasion as per the research of Dr. Russell James.

Vera, one of the University of Saskatchewan's legacy storytellers.
Vera, one of the University of Saskatchewan’s legacy storytellers.

What Donors Got in the Mail

Over the period of 2 years, a total of 5 letters were mailed to the same group of legacy prospects. Each letter is what we call a high-end package – live stamp, hand addressed and minimally branded. The mail is intentionally designed to look unlike mail donors typically receive from the university.

University of Saskatchewan legacy outer envelope.
uSask’s high-end outer envelopes feel extra-personal and special.

In addition, we were also able to mine the data to focus in on areas of interest for each donor. This enabled us to further personalize each letter based upon relationship and giving history.

How Did We Do

With every single mailing, the University of Saskatchewan heard directly from donors. Donors responded with phone calls, emails and letters. A few donors even independently sought out the letter signatory and said things like “I want to do what you did!”

Overall, the campaign generated a 7.11% response rate. A total of 65 expectancies were confirmed with an estimated future value of $7.2 million. Another 38 leads are in the later stages of the legacy moves management pipeline.

Legacy Mailing Series: Round Two

The first mailing cycle was so successful that the University of Saskatchewan is rolling the mailing series out again to a new pool of donors.

This time around, we developed a legacy donor profile unique to the University of Saskatchewan. We then applied this data-driven approach to identify a new group of legacy prospects which we’re testing against a donor group identified using loyalty alone. So far, the data-driven donor group has generated 68% of the expectancies and leads combined in this second mailing campaign.