After we completed a stewardship strategy project for their Office of Development, Princeton University asked us to create a video series for their best-in-class Annual Giving program to showcase the broad impact of alumni donations with a two-pronged goal: To motivate potential donors to give, while also thanking those who have already given for their generosity. Our video series told this story of truly world-changing impact through four different narratives: Making the top-rated school in the country affordable through financial aid, recruiting and retaining the world’s best faculty, creating a gold-standard new student orientation program that’s free for everyone, and then showcasing the overall record-breaking impact of the year’s campaign.
When filming at a school like Princeton, part of the challenge is deciding which of the world’s brightest minds to feature. We were honored to have the opportunity to interview sociology professor Matthew Desmond, winner of a Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur Fellowship for his book Evicted, about the launch of the new Eviction Lab trying to tackle the monumental task of addressing the country’s housing insecurity crisis. His story was one of Princeton not only attracting the world’s brightest minds to teach, bit also helping facilitate those minds’ world-changing research.
Princeton has long been lauded for its innovative and immersive small-group orientation experiences for incoming students. But despite widespread participation, the reality has long been that a large number of students simply couldn’t afford the added cost to participate — many of them the students most in need of a little extra help acclimating to Princeton’s campus. This video told the story of the impact of this expanded program to alumni while also stressing the significance of the fact that it’s now universal.
In some ways a financial aid story is the “slam dunk” of higher ed fundraising communications, but we wanted to take a slightly different approach than the expected “Isn’t this kid so lucky to go here” narrative. While giving opportunities to very deserving students is certainly a feel-good story, we wanted to turn this on its head a bit to show Princeton alumni how lucky they are to be in the same group as these already accomplished and ambitious students who aspire to Princeton’s lofty mission of being “in the service of humanity.”