University of Michigan, USA. Newsletter, plus reply form
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The University of Michigan Legacy Society newsletter
The University of Michigan, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is one of the USA’s elite large public universities, with many of its academic departments ranked in the top ten nationwide. Over the years, as support from the State of Michigan steadily declined, the University built an ever-larger fundraising programme focused on its alumni (including me). Like most other universities in the USA, Michigan is increasingly the beneficiary of large legacy gifts, which have helped the institution to build a huge endowment. Its repeated capital campaigns run into the billions and legacies figure prominently in the proceeds. Unfortunately, this newsletter, which is typical of large-university legacy promotion materials, illustrates some of the weaknesses of university fundraising as its typically practiced in the U.S. today. Note, for example, that what should have been a cover letter is instead placed on the first page of the newsletter. Its salutation reads “Dear Friends,” a violation of fundamental direct marketing and good fundraising principles. Its emphasis is on the mechanics of giving, not the benefits of doing so. The only saving grace in this newsletter is the use of two illustrated stories about Michigan benefactors.
The reply form is at the far bottom.
Pages 2, 3 and 4 of the newsletter are below.
Editor’s note: We at SOFII also liked the simple graphic presentation of different giving plans that are shown in this newsletter (option 1, the maize plan and option 2, the blue plan). Donors don’t automatically understand the implications of their giving, particularly when there are tax advantages. If these can be simply rendered in graphic form, then donors will be encouraged and fundraisers will benefit.