Case Study

The University of Chicago

How a leading research university leverages texting for annual giving and alumni engagement.

Overview

Since 2018, The University of Chicago has used ThruText to engage alumni, supporters, and donors. Megan Rajski, Senior Associate Director of Donor Participation, refers to ThruText as a “crucial link to our integrated channels,” used for everything from telefund, giving days, event invitations, and more. By strategically mixing up engagement and solicitation texts, UChicago has used texting to make authentic, organic connections.

We are grateful to have the space to utilize texting with ThruText as a communication channel at the University of Chicago. The ability to meet our alumni, friends and parents where they are has revitalized our outreach efforts, created genuine conversations and new fundraising opportunities.

Megan Rajski, Senior Associate Director of Donor Participation

Alumni Engagement:
Career Month Texting

During UChicago’s Career Month, the Alumni Engagement & Annual Giving team texted more than 24,000 people to invite them to participate in the university’s career programming. Campus units were asked to opt-in lists of alumni to receive a text inviting them to take part in career development webinars and resume review sessions exclusively for alumni.

This campaign yielded an average 22% response rate and 1% opt-out rate, and most importantly, enabled the team to have authentic, organic conversations. Not only were alumni informed of upcoming events, but these texts turned into open conversations and helped the University connect directly with alumni from many class years and disciplines.

Career Month Texting Results

24,000
Alumni texted about career programming
5280
unique conversations with alumni
1%
opt out rate

Conversation
Excerpt

Giving Tuesday

Maggie Elmarakby, Associate Director, Development and Rena Dascal, Director of Development shared that UChicago Harris School of Public Policy’s Giving Tuesday texting campaign was finalized only one week out, showing that it’s never too late to make texting part of an effective campaign strategy. Texting during Giving Tuesday allowed the team to have personal conversations that they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise, and helped staff members be part of the Giving Tuesday excitement and energy.

Both participation and total giving went up as compared to the previous year, and a higher percentage of smaller donations came in 2019 versus 2018, making this year’s a more successful annual giving campaign. There were some alumni that received only a text on Giving Tuesday, allowing UChicago to get in front of a new audience not reached on other channels. The team offered a tip for development shops who want to text on giving days: make sure to create detailed segmenting and targeted messaging to personalize texts as much as possible.

Giving Tuesday Texting Results

$20,000
raised
$15,000
Raised in addition
from matching gifts
32%
Of Donors gave 
as a direct
result of text
9.5%
Total contacts engaged
51%
Fulfillment rate for Text pledges
54%
increase in Total Donors from 2018

Conversation
Excerpt

Staying Connected

Thanks to their integrated strategy of balancing both solicitation and engagement, texting has become a viable channel for UChicago. The team plans to continue using texting as part of their telefund, for invitations to Alumni Weekend, to keep alumni up to date on news from campus, and more.

“We are grateful to have the space to utilize texting with ThruText as a communication channel at the University of Chicago. The ability to meet our alumni, friends and parents where they are has revitalized our outreach efforts, created genuine conversations and new fundraising opportunities.” - Megan Rajski, Senior Associate Director of Donor Participation

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