From the Nominator
Fundraising efforts for the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) are primarily aimed at two audiences: alumni and “friends” (grateful patients and community members). URMC PR produces three print magazines that target alumni. They also produce several publications that target friends, but focus on a specific area: cancer, neuroscience, pediatrics, and more. These publications come out at periodic and often irregular intervals, making it difficult to incorporate time-sensitive news, and they are produced with relatively little input from URMC Advancement Communications.
Within URMC Advancement, we have historically taken a similarly targeted approach to communicating with friends. When major research/grants/gifts were announced, they were emailed only to donors who had previously given to that initiative. And because Advancement doesn’t own any social channels that are relevant to URMC friends, we don’t have straightforward methods for sharing content with that broad audience. Simply put, there were no thoughtful, broad-based publications or channels that targeted URMC friends.
In January 2020, we launched Good News, a monthly email newsletter for URMC friends, to help close this gap. This e-newsletter shares broad-based stories, accomplishments, and discoveries—“good news”—with this audience. Because of the relative frequency, we can easily incorporate timely items and eliminate one-off mass emails (that often generate unsubscribes). It has been very well received, with average open rates of 30 percent, well above the higher education benchmark. Collectively, the recipients—who include recent donors of $100+, excluding faculty, staff, and board members—have given nearly $5 million in outright gifts (excluding pledges and pledge payments) over 12 months.
From the Judges
This year, there were a lot of COVID newsletters entered in this category. Good News stood out from other entries because of its “news you can use” approach to the pandemic, and focus on the science as it evolved. Often, donor-focused newsletters aren't timely and don't give smart donors credit for an interest in technical topics. This newsletter avoided both of these pitfalls. The fundraising results were impressive, the consistent call to action was relevant, and the execution was consistent.