Uni­ver­si­ty of Leeds: the mem­o­ries appeal

Exhibited by
Adrian Salmon, University of Leeds and Aline Reed, Bluefrog.
April 26, 2013
Medium of Communication
Direct mail, online
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
May, 2012

SOFII’s view

So many people say that they have great memories of their life as a student. The University of Leeds have used that sentiment to create a sense of community among their alumni. The idea is that by sharing their memories former students will be motivated to donate to their university to help undergraduates studying there now.

Creator / originator


Summary / objectives

Our objective was to get back in touch with ‘hard-to-reach’ graduates from the University of Leeds. This included younger alumni and others that hadn’t been in contact with the University since leaving.

We wanted them to feel part of the alumni community to create a new pool of prospects for future fundraising asks, either by phone or mail. As such, soliciting donations was in this instance a secondary objective, getting a warm response with up-to-date contact details was the first.


Only 2.5 per cent of Leeds alumni have made a donation to the University during the last year. We need to find new ways to engage donors so they feel a part of the alumni community and also start to support the University financially.

Funding for higher education in England has been subject to rapid change over the last few years. Government funding has been cut and students now face increased tuition fees, plus living costs.

University of Leeds alumni who give charitable donations can support scholarships, as well as research projects and new developments in campus facilities.

Special characteristics

As is often the case, inspiration for this piece came from real life. The telephone team at Leeds had decorated their calling room with some of the memories graduates were sharing with them on the phone. They’d written them on colourful post-it notes.

When we saw the ‘wall of memories’, we found our message ‘were missing you. Not only were we missing them because they hadn’t been in touch, but all their memories were missing too.

Leeds graduates are scattered around the globe, so we created a mailing pack and online version of the pack – sending alumni either a real or virtual post-it note to complete with a memory of Leeds.

Alongside it was a questionnaire, designed to rebuild their relationship with the University and to encourage future contact on terms that suited the potential donor.

Prospects were given the chance to donate and were also asked if they’d consider donating in the future.

Influence / impact

This is the first approach of its kind by the University of Leeds. It combined a very personal approach to re-establish the relationship between alumni and University with offering a wider sense of being part of a community.

The responses we received from alumni were also tremendously inspiring, giving us a real sense of what they valued about their time at Leeds.


Based on the University of Leeds propensity model, 32,000 of our best prospects received the mailing pack.

A further 34,000 received the e-mail questionnaire as their profile indicated that they were more likely to respond online, or their geographical location meant mailing to them wouldn’t be cost effective.


This was a prospecting exercise and our aim was to get around 1,600 alumni to fill in the questionnaire and respond. In fact, we got 2,500 responses, beating the target by 56 per cent.

The digital channel was particularly successful with 4.1 per cent response, by email and the sharing of memories on a microsite.

Twitter and Facebook were used to share memories and drive further response.


This was a highly successful prospecting exercise that enabled the University to make contact with a group of alumni that hadn’t previously been engaged.

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The landing page of the website.
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Lots of lovely messages on Facebook.
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The leaflet asking alumni to send their own messages.
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The post-its mailing pack.
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The back of the questionnaire.