Blue and Gray Day is Georgetown University’s main undergraduate giving day, running for 1789 minutes to signify Georgetown’s founding year. To reflect the importance of the day, Karalee Harhaji, Senior Associate Director Annual Giving Direct Mail Marketing & Operations, and Sarah Rybak, Assistant Director, Annual Giving Email and Digital, sought a way to make sure donors understood how much their impact meant. Previously, they had created designs using Georgetown’s mascot, Jack the bulldog, and a text bubble thanking donors; however, the process of dropping in first names was laborious and manual and they only reached 15% of their donors
This time around, Georgetown looked for a way to not only reach more donors but also increase personalization beyond first name. “I feel that at a certain point just having first name personalization in an email isn’t gonna cut it anymore. People are going to be looking for something new and more to engage with,” said Rybak.
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In order to efficiently create personalized videos, Georgetown pulled a list of its 100 most common alumni names and created videos for that list. Next, they created videos based on common regions that alumni lived in, which they sent to those who did not fall within the 100 most common names.
While they expected a long, arduous process, the team at Georgetown completed the videos in just a few hours: “We booked out space for four days and it took us two hours!” said Harhaji. They enlisted students from their call center to help create videos, allowing donors to receive a thank you from current students on campus.
With the videos created, Rybak and Harhaji were ready to go for Blue and Gray Day. Throughout the day as donations came in, they had one person pulling a list of donors every couple of hours. Using the search bar on the video page within their campaigns, they searched by first name or by region, which they included in the Donor ID column, and attached the corresponding videos. 77.8% of over 1800 recipients on Blue and Gray Day received a personalized video.
“We booked out space for four days and it took us two hours!”
Harhaji, Rybak, and the other members of their team ran and owned this project, leading to a quicker and more streamlined process. “It can be kind of an internal struggle to get any signatories for our emails and ends up taking so much time,” said Rybak. Using ThankView, Harhaji and Ryback spearheaded the project and knocked out the necessary videos across an afternoon.
In addition to the speedier process, the results also reflected a positive response from donors. Across Blue and Gray Day, Georgetown’s ThankViews had an open rate of 67.3% and a clickthrough rate of 32.6%. “Just in terms of open rates themselves, they were way higher than what we usually get. The clickthrough rates obviously were great, people actually watched their videos. I think it’s nice that we’re actually giving them something to engage with and not just an email that has text on it. It’s a more engaging way to steward folks,” said Rybak. Georgetown also received a few sweet replies from recipients who were touched by their ThankView.
ThankView ultimately allowed Georgetown to efficiently and effectively show recipients that their donation matters and would be felt by students on campus. The personalization that ThankView allows provided them with the means to convey this sincere thanks. “It’s customization that you have to focus on,” said Harhaji. “So not only a first name merge but how can you let someone know that you’ve seen their gift and that you care.” With ThankView, they accomplished this goal.