Missouri-based Ozark Christian College had raised as much general gift income in the first six months of 2005 as it had raised in all of 2003.
Anya Ansley gives a good portion of the credit to a new way of approaching donors through eTapestry, the college’s Web-based donor management system.
Ansley personalized envelopes and letters and swapped the traditional “Dear Christian Friend” salutation with the prospective or past donor’s name for the first mass mailing she coordinated in her new job as the college’s Stewardship Department administrative assistant in 2004.
“We saw our response rate go up dramatically,” Ansley said. Donors have specifically noted that they liked the fact that their letters were personalized.
This tactic, which she accomplished by merging the college’s eTapestry database into a Word document, led to other changes in communicating with the college’s donors.
Using eTapestry’s advanced e-mail tool, the college began producing an e-newsletter that provided links allowing alumni and donors to update their own contact information.
“A lot our alumni are on the move, especially the first 10 years after college, so it’s been helpful to keep up with all the address changes,” Ansley said.
Ozark Christian College’s mission is to train men and women for Christian service through an undergraduate Bible college education. Alumni serve throughout the United States and in 40 countries worldwide.
The college’s e-newsletter, distributed through eTapestry, helped the college keep in touch with its graduates, many of whom leave the school to become missionaries in rural communities that do not have regular access to mail.
“They may not be able to get the quarterly print newsletter, but alumni will travel to a big city every couple of weeks and get their e-mail,” Ansley said.
This more timely access made a huge difference when the college announced that Ken Idleman, president of Ozark Christian College for 26 years, was retiring. The college had set up a fund in Idleman’s name. Ansley credits the immediate outpouring of giving to alumni who were in better contact with the college.