Baldwin Wallace University Connects with Long-Time Donors with a Custom Puzzle

Challenge

Baldwin Wallace University (BW) has a robust network of donors – and most impressively, many of those donors have been donating for 20 or more years consecutively.

Typically, the team at BW would hold a reception and holiday concert as a thank you to these 20-or-more year donors, but as with so many in-person events in 2020, that event was cancelled. Therefore, BW had to find a way to connect with these very special donors and engage them and make them feel appreciated.

Solution

One of BW’s alumni from a graduate program shared a photo of a puzzle they received from their undergraduate institution a few months before they began working on this alumni project. The team at BW loved the idea and kept it in their back pocket until the right time.

When they began planning for a way to thank their consecutive donors, they realized that a puzzle would be the perfect fit (pun intended!) for their needs. During the pandemic, people were staying home more than ever. That made the puzzle a great way to provide a fun activity for their recipients while also showing their appreciation in an engaging way.

Next, BW needed to find the right partner to help them make their puzzle gift dream a reality. Ann Miller, the Director of Annual Giving, reflected that they received a glowing recommendation about Magellan Promotions from another university. They requested a sample and loved the puzzle Magellan sent to them. During the quoting process, Miller said the Magellan Promotions account manager was responsive and helpful at every turn. She could tell they would support the project from start to finish. Miller and her team decided that Magellan Promotions was the right company to trust with this unique project.

The selected 500 piece round puzzle featured an iconic campus building and came in a custom box displaying the same image on the puzzle, which gave it a retail gift presentation. The team at BWU packaged the puzzles and sent them along with a thank you card that also encouraged them to post photos with their puzzle on social media.

Outcome

The puzzle was hugely successful! The team at Baldwin Wallace received a number of comments from recipients about how much they enjoyed putting the puzzle together with their families, and many also shared pictures on social media.

“The emails, photos, and anecdotes we received were amazing! We mailed the puzzles in February 2021 and we are still receiving messages and photos five months later!” said Miller.

While the team at BW and the donors certainly missed the in-person reception and concert, they recognized that the event can only draw about a third of the donors as many of them aren’t able to attend. The puzzle, on the other hand, was able to reach each and every donor in a fun and engaging way.

The puzzle also had the added bonus of being a major expense-saver in comparison with the event, meaning more of the donors’ funds were able to go toward their cause.

Additionally, Miller said, “The extra puzzles that were not mailed to the consecutive donors have been utilized as gifts for other donor and alumni groups, as well as used individually as part of personal outreach by prospect managers with their donors. So the puzzles are the gift that keeps on giving and people LOVE them! I can’t say that enough!”

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