Case Study: McGill’s Desautels Faculty of Management
Founded in 1906, the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University is ranked as one of the world’s top international business schools by BusinessWeek, Canadian Business, Forbes, The Economist and the Financial Times. The Faculty’s innovative programs and historic reputation for excellence continue to attract the finest students and the most prominent professors from around the globe, as well as the most demanding recruiters from the world’s top employers.
Desautels’ communications team mandated Phil to produce its first comprehensive report, following a highly successful fundraising campaign. The objective was to develop a report that would highlight to donors, alumni, students, faculty, and friends the transformative impact that their support had on the Faculty.
Instead of creating a traditional report with an opening message from the Faculty’s leader and a strong emphasis on financial figures, Phil recommended to Desautels to tell a compelling story with their report, rather than just display a collection of data, so that they could better connect with their stakeholders on an emotional level.
The overarching theme of the report was to showcase how support has a direct and meaningful impact on the students and faculty, which in turn impacts society. Named the Desautels Impact Report, the document was organized by the Faculty’s strategic priorities rather than by program, so that readers could get a better idea of the interconnectedness of each initiative and how they all fit into the Faculty’s goals, as well as its vision for the future. Students, faculty, and alumni were the voices of the report, showcasing the ground-up impact of support on individual members of the community.
In order to make the report visually dynamic and interesting, the cover page design had to be eye-catching. Phil designed a cover that prominently displayed a laser cutout of the Faculty logo, allowing a peek at the sampling of individuals impacted by support. Phil decided to keep the report image-heavy, using photos of real students, faculty, and alumni, and to include clear and pleasing graphics to display the numerical data, creating an easy-to-digest and engaging piece.
In order to keep printing costs down, only donors who gave $1,500 and above received a printed copy. Phil then created a microsite with additional dynamic features such as videos, photo galleries, research papers and links, which was made available on the faculty website.
The report recently won Gold in the Best Institutional Annual Report category at the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE) Awards. The annual awards program recognizes outstanding achievements in alumni affairs, public affairs, communications, marketing, development, advancement services, stewardship, student recruitment and overall institutional advancement.
More importantly, the report received fantastic feedback from donors and alumni. A recent Desautels graduate commented that it made her want to donate in the future because she had never really known the extent of the impact that gifts had on the Faculty and society. Another example was a comment from an alumnus, who is a major supporter of many Canadian institutions, about how he was thrilled to finally see his alma mater come alive and how great the report looked.
The Desautels Faculty team now uses the report as a stewardship tool when meeting with current and prospective donors.