This is a letter sent to Wake Forest University graduates in May 2016 from the Annual Fund Chair of the WFU School of Business Board of Visitors. I typed it in: READ THE LETTER HERE.

Scan of the letter including WFU letterhead

Scan of the actual fundraising letter.

Plaintext copy of the letter and photos of additional inserts are included in this post.

Nick’s Notes and Analysis

  • Great intro to get past my filters. He says, “Let me say up front: I get it.” This is a bold statement which says to me, “You hate fundraising shit. But wait!” I love it.

  • Weak 2nd paragraph. “I graduated from Wake Forest in 1985…” blah blah. The hook here is the line “I was not actively connected with the School of Business.”  This paragraph could have been stronger to follow-up the real talk from the bold intro line. I might have phrased it to say, “You’re not actively connected with the School of Business. It’s an out of sight, out of mind situation.” Then next paragraph. Something to make it feel more about ME and less about him.
  • Overall I don’t really understand the appeal. Is it saying that if I get more involved, then I can be the Annual Fund Chair? Maybe this is just an introduction letter where we’re meeting the Annual Fund Chair and it’s a soft ask which coincides with their end of the fiscal year. No compelling reason for me to give here, but nice to meet you Howard. Good letter.
  • Great postscript. I like the all-caps on INCREDIBLE to describe the website. It seems cool and I checked it out. Call me old-fashioned, but I’d have loved to see the website address underlined.
  • Lack of contact info from Annual Fund Chair. I’m guessing this is typical: the University doesn’t want to bombard their VIPs with communication from alumni. Instead they direct us to “contact Mike Darrow,” the Annual Fund Manager and presumably a WFU Development employee. OK. But it would be cool to set up a fake email address from the Annual Fund Chair, have those messages forward to the Annual Fund Manager, and at least let me think like I’m writing back to a VIP. Easy enough to automate the forwarding and a simple reply to make it feel personal.
  • Coding the letter to measure results: Each article they sent is marked with “5211” in very small font – on the letter in the top right corner, on the envelope to me, and on the insertion. I’m assuming the development department or their marketing agency uses this to measure results per campaign.

I’ll post more stuff like this on my blog in the Development section and also in Direct Mail examples.

Nick’s disclaimer: I don’t work in development, and I’ve never done fundraising before. Massive respect to the team who put out this letter. I like it and that’s why I’m sharing it. I’m posting these comments from the perspective of a disconnected millennial who has a healthy disposable income but doesn’t currently give. I’m curious about direct marketing trends and copy used in the fundraising world and hope to share more letters like this.

Have a letter from a Development or Fundraising department that you want to share? Email me.

Text: The Fundraising Letter from Annual Fund Chair

May 5, 2016
xxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx
xxx xxxx, xx xxxxx-xxx

Dear Nick,

Let me say up front: I get it.

I graduated from Wake Forest in 1985 (undergrad) and 1987 (MBA). As I moved on with my career and life, I was not actively connected with the School of Business. It was not a conscious choice; it was more of an “out of sight, out of mind” situation. Life happened. and suddenly it was almost 30 years from my graduation without much interaction with our School.

So, I do get it, and I am you. Or I was you.

In 2014, with the changes in the MBA program, I attended an information session for alumni to learn more about the direction of the School. I came away very impressed with our School’s future strategy. I also realized that the engagement and support of alumni is critical to our success.

Therefore, I re-engaged. I began to support the Wake Forest Fund for the School of Business – the Annual Fund – and I even joined the School of Business’ Board of Visitors. I am also much more active with our recruiting efforts here at Hanesbrands.

I accepted the role of Annual Fund Chair on the Board because I believe in the value and importance of the Annual Fund as a vehicle for the School to achieve its goals and because I believe that every alumni’s gift at any level matters.

Our School’s commitment to the highest quality in academics, intimate class sizes and exceptional faculty is supported through the generous financial support of alumni like you. We cannot do it without your support, and I respectfully ask that you, like I did, re-engage with the School through your support of the Annual Fund.

For your convenience, we have included a gift form and reply envelope. You can also give online at As you may know, our fiscal year ends on June 30, so we would appreciate your gift by that date. Again, thank you in advance for your continued giving to the Wake Forest Fund for the School of Business – the Annual Fund.

If we can ever be of service, please feel free to contact Mike Darrow MBA ’87, Annual Fund Manager, at

Howard Upchurch ’85 MBA 87
Annual Fund Chair, WFU School of Business Board of Visitors Group
President, Innerwear Americas
Hanesbrands, Inc.

PS – Have you seen our new Alumni website? It is INCREDIBLE – check it out at

Inserts and Images

1 of 2: Attachment in the envelope for "Wake Will" giving campaign

1 of 2: Attachment in the envelope for “Wake Will” giving campaign

Wake Forest Fund Giving Society

2 of 2: Attachment in the envelope for “Wake Will” giving campaign (back side)

It's an envelope with my address

Why did I even scan this? Does anyone care about envelopes?

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