UNIVERSITY OF LEEDS
A TARGET-SMASHING MAY APPEAL
THE 2023 MAY SCHOLARSHIP APPEAL WAS DMS’ THIRD FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF LEEDS – AND IT PROVED TO BE A RECORD BREAKER! aFTER TWO PREVIOUS MAY APPEALS, WHICH HAD ALREADY HIT OR EXCEEDED THEIR INCOME TARGETS, THE PRESSURE WAS ON!
The May Scholarship Appeal is Leeds’ biggest and most important of the year and is part of a multi-channel campaign that includes digital and telephone channels too. However, with the cost-of-living crisis squeezing incomes and impacting on charitable giving, it was far from certain how the 2023 appeal would perform.
Rather than skirt around the challenging economic situation, we decided to highlight the impact it was having on the life chances of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. And ask alumni to donate to fund Scholarships and Student Support at the University.
Our ‘Future First’ appeal underlined how vital scholarships are, enabling them to focus on working for their future rather than worrying about day-to-day living costs. We put a powerful scholarship story at the heart of the campaign, highlighting the impact the cost-of-living crisis was having on students from difficult backgrounds. It brought this to life via the story of Emillie, a young single parent, who never would have been able to afford to study at Leeds without a scholarship.
Via Emillie’s story it highlighted how the cost of living crisis was forcing students to prioritise on making ends meet rather focusing on working for a brighter future. We reached audiences in the UK, US and globally and also incorporated testing to optimise the donation form, using behavioural science techniques.
The campaign clearly resonated as it beat our income target by 102% with a DM total. As well as enjoying a strong response from warm audiences, we also included acquisition and Leadership Giving audiences. Despite the challenging economic situation, the Future First appeal has become Leed’s most successful ever May appeal.
“This is the most that has ever been raised through a scholarships appeal and, for reference, we haven’t raised nearly this much in a scholarship appeal since the pre-pandemic strategy overhaul in 2019. The 2019 appeal also had the benefit of over four years of income generation still being attributed to it and a wider donor base – not impacted by Covid-19 donor attrition, a cost of living crisis and supported by a more established telephone fundraising campaign. This only makes this achievement more remarkable.
We want to say a massive thank you for all your support in getting us to our total – we wouldn’t have been able to do this without you!”