UNIVERSITY OF LEEDS
SETTING A NEW BENCHMARK FOR SCHOLARSHIP APPEALS
THE MAY RETENTION CAMPAIGN IS THE UNIVERSITY OF LEEDS’ BIGGEST OF THE YEAR. iT ASKS ALUMNI TO DONATE TO FUND SCHOLARSHIPS AND STUDENT SUPPORT AT THE UNIVERSITY.
2021 was our first opportunity to create the May Appeal and, as well as being a fantastic opportunity, the pressure was on. As the biggest campaign of the year, it had an ambitious fundraising target of £120,000. Plus, all of Leeds’ scholarships are solely funded by donations. So, a successful campaign really mattered to talented students whose hopes of going to Leeds depended on a scholarship.
As the flagship appeal, we were given free rein to develop the strongest creative we could. This began with putting a really powerful and inspiring scholarship story at the heart of the campaign. And we couldn’t have found a more amazing story than Makeen’s.
At the age of 14, Makeen had fled for his life from Syria. He arrived in the UK not being able to speak a word of English yet, within just a few years, he was doing his A-Levels and had his sights set on becoming a doctor.
Our ‘Letter that changed my life’ appeal took supporters back to that life-changing moment Makeen heard he had received a scholarship. We did this by including a copy of Makeen’s scholarship offer letter and created a lift piece in which Makeen described that wonderful moment and the difference his scholarship has made to him.
This inspiring and personal campaign clearly resonated as it beat our income target by 40% with an overall response rate of 6.4% and an ROI of 8.9. It was also the first campaign in which Leeds had included QR codes to promote online response. This resulted in 15% of the income from the main appeal and 71% from the reminder being given online. This has since spurred the University to enhance their digital strategy.
Most importantly, the campaign’s success meant Leeds could fund 208 more life-changing scholarships to students like Makeen.