Rebranding to revive donor engagement

Independent schools like The York School have their operations funded by tuition fees, however enhancements in the students’ experience are typically funded by annual fund campaigns. As The York School’s annual fundraising drive had been experiencing less donor activity over recent years, the School invited Aegis to help revive the campaign with a fresh rebrand and communications strategy to help correct a downward trend.

The York School Fund

Branding and Identity

Fundraising Campaign Strategy

Direct Mail

Understanding the problem
The supporters of the School’s annual fund are, for the most part, the parents of students. While parents are actively concerned for the quality of their children’s education, nonetheless, donor fatigue can become a problematic factor. Understanding why was our first step. Donor fatigue can be a response to too many asks in too short a time. It can be the result of communications that lack clarity or do not resonate. Finally, it can be aggravated by poor differentiation from the barrage of other school communications.

A solution evolves
It became clear that the School’s fund needed to be a distinct subbrand, not simply a generic fundraising drive for the School. We developed a direct mail campaign to clarify purpose and build greater relevance with donors. And when considering donor fatigue, we identified another possible contributing factor. Reciprocity is an integral aspect of healthy social relationships. When one party feels its generosity is not being recognized or returned, they can soften their support. So we created a “thank you” gift and included it in the direct mail package—a special poster for recipients’ children illustrating the historical characters who represent the School’s four houses.

Results
The annual campaign launched in mid-December 2017. One month later donor activity had already exceeded expectations.

140%

The new annual fund campaign yielded returns of 140% over the previous year.

140%

The new annual fund campaign yielded returns of 140% over the previous year.