Washington State University – Pennant Stewardship Mailer with Test

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TitlePennant Stewardship Mailer with Test
InstitutionWashington State University
Submitted ByNicole LeBlanc
Development Coordinator
CategoryDirect Mail Appeals
Institution TypeCollege / University
What fiscal year did this effort occur?2018

This was a stewardship mailer sent to all donors of the previous fiscal year thanking them for their gift and providing a token of our appreciation. The brochure folds out to become a University-themed pennant. As a test, 20% of the mail list also received a reply device.

What makes this unique

We have seen other flag-style pieces, but this traditional pennant style is a bit different from what we had seen (and created a few headaches in production). Our hope is that donors will keep this piece hanging up and will continue to get reminders of their philanthropy to our institution. The specific donor-type thank you messaging created a more personalized thank you that we hope will resonate well with our donors.

The addition of the reply device also added a unique aspect to the piece. WSU receives many donor requests for custom reply devices throughout the year outside of appeal cycles. This additional personalized pledge card gives these donors a handy method for renewing their gift at their convenience (and saves us the individual effort of providing these cards on an individual request basis).

Thus far, this appears to be not only effective in renewing gifts, but also in generating early renewals (which opens up possibilities for donors to make multiple gifts during the year).

WSU has sent this type of “thank you token” mailer annually for at least seven years. Even when accounting for the extra time for the custom shape, the three donor message versions, and the additional pledge card insert, this is one of the most cost-effective token-style mailers we have sent. The donor feedback on this piece has been almost entirely positive.Of note, WSU is trending higher than last fiscal year period to date in both donors and dollars through Q1. While further analysis is needed for long-term results, this mailer, in conjunction with our early fundraising appeals, seems to be having a distinct impact.

Primary Goal

The goal of this mailer was to provide a unique stewardship piece that would aid with donor retention. The pennant had split versions to recognize first-time donors, renewed donors, and reactivated donors. We have never included a reply device in this kind of stewardship, so the goal on this test was to gauge participation and general feedback.


The pennant brochure generated positive feedback on the design from donors and internal development staff (who have been using the pennants to decorate their work areas). The 20% reply device test segment thus far has received no negative feedback. It has generated gifts from multiple households for seven areas of the institution, with gifts ranging from $5 to $2,400. Of note, half of the donor households responding thus far were reactivated donors (SYBUNT/Long-Lapsed) from the previous fiscal year.

Based on previous tests adding reply devices to End of Calendar Year Tax Receipts, we estimate that we will continue to receive gifts from these pledge cards throughout the remainder of the fiscal year.