Fundraising Publications Packages: Bowdoin College - Bronze Medal

Category 33: Fundraising Publications Packages
Bowdoin College, The Bowdoin Campaign Case Statement

Contact: Alison Bennie, Editor, Bowdoin Magazine, Communications and Public Affairs, 3900 College Station, Brunswick, ME 04364, Phone: (207) 725-3136, e-mail:

Description: A one-day event held off-campus to publicly launch a $250 million campaign for Bowdoin College, an undergraduate, residential, liberal arts college in Brunswick, Maine, founded in 1794. The original charter for the college was signed in Boston, Massachusetts, and a significant segment of Bowdoin’s alumni live in the New England area. The previous campaign launch (1995) had been held on campus, and it was determined that an event in Boston would be appropriate, attention-getting, and promising for attendance. The program consisted of a luncheon and afternoon sessions with members of the faculty at the Seaport Hotel (Voices from the Classroom), and an evening reception, dinner buffet, and theatrical and multi-media production featuring Bowdoin alumni, staff, faculty, and students at the John F. Kennedy Library & Museum (Lasting Impressions). Attendance reached the anticipated 500 and offered a time of celebration — with the announcement of $140 million raised to date — and of community — with the intermingling of some of the College’s prominent alumni, rising stars, faculty, staff, and students.

Planning and Objectives: Planning for the launch of the Bowdoin Campaign began in May 2005, 18 months in advance of the event. The program was developed with the following in mind: objectives of the campaign (raising money for specific projects), the demographics of the target audience (sophisticated and very busy), important key messages (strength of academic program, power of liberal arts, sense of place and community, integrity and genuineness), and desired outcomes (sense that Bowdoin connects with the audience on many levels, desire to support the College financially, faith in administration). Consideration was also given in the planning to the desire to get as many key prospects to attend the event.

The theme of the event was the theme of the campaign, The Place That Makes Us. The Place We Make. It was underscored by content in both the daytime academic program and in the evening production. Strength of the faculty was evident in the presentations and in their contributions to the evening production, especially in the roles of director and composer.

The first save-the-date was mailed to all invitees in February 2006. This was followed by an e-mail with the same message in April, a second printed save-the-date mailed in July, and a formal invitation mailed in September. A “reminder to respond” e-mail went out in mid-October to all who had yet to respond. All guests who elected to attend Voices from the Classroom received a confirmation packet with the request to select which faculty sessions they wished to attend. A campaign presence on the Bowdoin website was prepared and scheduled to go live the evening of November 10 (View the site at

Audience: The target audience for the event included all volunteers to the college (trustees, alumni fund directors, parents executive committee members, alumni council members, etc.), all donors who had made a gift or pledge of $50,000 or more to the campaign, and select prospects at the same level. An invitation list of 1,200 yielded an attendance of 500 as planned. Of the 500 guests, 140 attended the afternoon sessions with faculty. Personalized letters from the president ensured the attendance of some very key donors and prospects.

Resources: Planning and implementation of the event was very much in-house. Two key staff members were assigned to the project as part of their regular responsibilities and at no additional cost to the college. With the use of internal resources for writing, direction, musical score, performance, and technical support, event costs were kept at a minimum. Resources instead were devoted to the production of the support pieces through exceptional photography (also used in large murals, stage backdrops, and event visuals) and design. Total costs for design, photography, and printing for these support pieces (which includes others beyond the five we are permitted to include in the package) was $224,000. Writing for these pieces was in-house.