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Advance Work: Cultivating Cocky Behavior

Interactive campaign encourages young alumni giving

What do you get when you cross a university in the Southern United States with a strong desire to engage young alumni in the annual fund? The “Y’ALL” campaign, of course.

Y’ALL stands for “Young Alumni Leaving a Legacy” and is the brainchild of the University of South Carolina’s annual giving staff. The campaign kicked off last spring with targeted e-mails, videos, and direct mail sent to nearly 35,000 graduates. Young alumni were invited to “Get Cocky”—the USC mascot is the gamecock—and compete to be the campaign ambassadors. More than 1,500 registered on the Get Cocky Web site, 139 entered the contest, and 887 voted to select the two winners.

The ambassadors represent young alumni at campus events and serve as spokespersons for the campaign. They also co-chair the Young Alumni Development Council, a new group established to talk with peers about the importance of philanthropy.

Although the campaign is soliciting young alumni via e-mail and direct mail, the phone connection (cell phone when possible) is most successful so far. Last year the USC call center generated nearly 60 percent of young alumni gifts.

This year, to boost contact opportunities and encourage grad­­uates to keep their contact information up-to-date, the annual giving office sent out a “Tag, You’re It” card that promised a personalized luggage tag to those who responded.

Lola Mauer, director of annual giving, reports that dollars raised from young alumni increased in the spring, during and after the Y’ALL campaign. During 2007–2008, young alumni giving increased by $74,000, a 40 percent boost from the previous year.

There’s much more to the Y’ALL campaign than just good old South­ern hospitality. “We understand that cultivating this group is an essential component of keeping our momentum going,” Mauer says.




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