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Case Study: McGill Alma Mater Fund


cs_alma_lThe Alma Mater Fund is McGill’s hallmark alumni fund, which appeals to alumni to help support the University’s most pressing day-to-day needs and opportunities. Gifts from graduates provide flexible financial support for teaching and research initiatives throughout McGill, as well as funding for student aid, library resources, athletics, and individual faculties and schools.


When Phil started working on a fundraising plan for the Alma Mater Fund, there were no big problems to solve. Our mandate was to find ways to monetize the Fund’s currently inactive donor base. Our extensive experience with non-profit clients allowed us to understand McGill’s fundraising opportunities and work closely with their marketing team to communicate a compelling call to action for McGill’s Alumni. Our call for support campaign was one of the most successful the Alma Mater Fund has ever had.


We developed the campaign from the idea that when you give to the McGill Alma Mater Fund, you are supporting McGill students in their efforts to become the leaders of tomorrow. Named “For a Better Tomorrow”, the campaign was the result of 3 months of research, planning and brainstorming; 3 months of design concept development, copywriting and website layouts. Production and printing of all the campaign material took another 3 months and final touches were wrapped up within another month.

By personalizing the campaign with stories like Vivien Carli’s, BA’08, who received funding enabling her to spend three months in Kenya with the Indigenous Movement for Peace Advancement and Conflict Transformation (IMPACT), we were able to show concrete examples of how the money raised would be spent. The concept was designed in such a way that you could have unlimited examples of “success stories”. As long as there were students benefiting from the Fund, there would be stories to tell.  McGill had plans to run various profiles over a three year period. The wide variety of student experiences would demonstrate the value of each donation.

To illustrate and convey the campaign’s message as efficiently as possible, our team created printed and web-based materials to call for support. These materials included direct mail pieces, donation cards, reply envelopes (pre-paid and non), print ads, newsletter and website templates, donation buttons for online giving, and letters with text aimed at alumni and non-alumni such as parents, faculty and staff, and friends. All of these were created for the main audience and again for the MacDonald Campus (alumni and non-alumni such as parents, faculty and staff, and friends).



Once the tools had been developed, Phil passed them over to McGill, who have been successfully maintaining the content themselves for several years. Consistent design choices and well-written content have been the keys to this campaign’s success. It was thanks to this effective campaign that word spread across several McGill Faculties about Phil’s work, including to the Desautels Faculty of Management. This led to interesting projects, such as our 2009 mandate to redesign all the way-finding signage for the main McGill Library in downtown Montreal.

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