Seattle University Spring Alumni and Annual Giving Campaign

In 2023, the Seattle University Alumni and Annual Giving team needed help unifying their spring appeal letters. They shared that one of their challenges was getting their alumni from different eras to consider a gift – many older alumni gave, but younger alumni felt the burden of student debt was too high to give back.

Their ask to us was to help them write appeals that represent the university’s values, inspire the audience to feel a strong connection to their alma mater, demonstrate the need for philanthropy and energize people to give.

The Problem

When we looked at their appeals, each letter told the audience about the important work happening in the schools and colleges. The letters also referenced the university’s values and talked about how giving had an impact.

What we realized was, that they were telling stories instead of using stories to show their donors how the school or college was living its values and providing a whole student experience. We also noticed that their appeal format prioritized telling a long back story, instead of looking ahead.

The Solution

We helped the SU Foundation team flip their approach by developing a messaging narrative that was connected to the vision and goals of each college or school’s whole-student experience to the university’s values.

Our messages focused on outcomes:

  • What an affordable SU whole-student experience included
  • Why providing SU students with scholarships helps fulfill the whole-student experience
  • How alumni and donor support ensures SU graduates can have the greatest impact


We wanted to set each letter up to inspire SU alumni to remember their university experience and connect with how it’s serving them today. Through storytelling, we hoped to inspire alumni to believe in fulfilling the same opportunity they had at SU for today’s students. For each of the priority funds and each of SU’s schools and colleges, we wrote a messaging narrative that was supported by a clear call to action.

We also looked up a level and included overall university key messages, guidelines for the voice and tone of appeals and key facts and stats. Our goal with the university-wide messaging was to provide the annual giving team with unifying core messages that could be reflected and repeated across all materials.

The Results

The 2023 spring appeal letters told a story that exemplified how an SU education serves students for the longevity of their careers. The letters told a united story about how learnings in the classroom would translate to impact and service in the professions and vocations students were training for.

Altogether, the SU spring appeal letters set alumni up to connect with a story that illustrated how their support would further the traditions and values of their alma mater.

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