Case Study

Whimsical Fundraising Campaign for Carleton College Parent Fund

Carleton College needed to reach all of its audiences in a short amount of time for a crucial fundraising campaign. Neuger worked with Carleton College to develop a unique, whimsical parent fund appeal for print and digital communications that reflected the identity of the college.

The Situation

In 2018, Carleton College found itself stretched to reach all of its audiences in a busy year that included preparation for a capital campaign. With fewer parent appeals, there was a shortfall in parent giving.

The Communications Challenge

We needed to increase fundraising efforts while highlighting student pride and the college’s offerings. With the main target being parents of Carleton students, we wanted to appeal to their pride in their students and to inspire them to pay it forward.

The Strategy

We chose a theme inspired by “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” by Dr. Seuss, and wrote and illustrated the parent appeal in verse rhyme that also used specific Carleton student alumni stories. The pamphlet features children’s book illustrations that include campus landmarks and visual references to students’ accomplishments. We used tongue-in-cheek content and second-person voice to speak directly to parents.

We used audience research on students, alumni and parents to stand out from other data-driven fund appeals. Additionally, we employed verse-style phrases using specific Carleton student references provided about student accomplishments. The Carleton common trends were a high value on education (75 percent of graduating students go on to higher education within five years), a creative passion in academics and descriptions of the student body as a whole as “a bit quirky” with a “definite sense of humor.”

We printed the piece through our sister company, Engage Print, and provided designed templates for the digital emails to parent groups. We also produced and mailed fund appeal envelopes within the printed piece. The entire campaign was executed in two months.

The Results

As parents had not been a primary focus early in 2018, there was a shortfall in parent giving at mid-year. We were able to reduce a shortfall that was 20 percent under the year-end goal to a shortfall of only six percent in a month’s time. Beyond the original campaign, the work served as a valuable platform for 2019.