From the Nominator
Each year, we mail notification packets to the donors who contribute US$10k+ to scholarship funds at Michigan Ross. The objective of the packet is to inform donors about students benefiting from their support. In 2018, we tried something new: inviting donors to share words of wisdom and best wishes with their student beneficiaries. Over the past two years, in addition to a new donor survey, we have included a sheet of paper with the header “Write to Your Student-Support Recipient” plus a postage-paid envelope. The response has been phenomenal. Last year, an astounding 21% of donors returned a completed survey, 25% of whom also enclosed letters to scholarship recipients. So far this year, 14% of donors have returned the survey, 60% of whom also sent letters. This campaign is distinctive because of its simplicity, uniqueness, and authentic call-to-action. Donors are used to being asked for money. But to invite them to write personal letters to students? This was a whole new approach that encouraged donors to engage on a deeper, more personal level in a way that helped humanize the impact of their philanthropy. All of this for the mere cost of a sheet of paper and a stamped envelope!
From the Judges
The judges all loved this entry because it is so simple, yet it has a deep impact on both the students and the alumni who write the letters. This is such an easily replicable model that every school could implement the program. It is a great example of an initiative that enhances alumni bonds to the university while offering new students a very meaningful connection.