Captive audience

Donors, supporters and alumni can’t wait to hear from you
says YBM's director, Mira Katbamna.

If you want to ensure your supporters don't become strangers, contact Mira.

If you run communications for donors, supporters or alumni, I have good news: readers want what you’ve got.

They want to know about your latest research and they care about how scholarships and bursaries are organised. They definitely want to know that the campaign you’ve worked on – and in many cases, they have contributed to – is putting money in the right places.

But despite the appetite for this content, many organisations – whether a charity, university or school – struggle. Most of us know this from personal experience: ask the average marketeer whether they read the magazines that they receive and you’ll usually get a wry smile in reply.

Happily it does not have to be like this. So how can you make sure that your print communications are hitting the spot? The most important factor is being clear about your institution’s brand.

Magazines are incredibly intimate. People carry them around, lend them to friends, leave them on coffee tables, read them on the loo. They hang around. Done well, they are a huge engagement opportunity.

That’s why everything about your magazine – the binding, the paper it’s printed on, the design and, above all, the content – should perfectly reflect your institution’s brand. When alumni receive it, even if they don’t open it, they should feel recognition and pride.

So if you’re a small school famous for your friendliness, make sure the personal touch spills out of every page. If you’re a world-beating university, make sure your magazine focuses on how your academics, students and alumni are changing that world. Your communications should reflect the character of your institution.

And if you have the budget, use it to be ambitious. Employ freelance photographers and writers. Get your copy sub-edited out-of-house. Look for a better designer. Involve a professional editor. Do what it takes to ensure your magazine is read, appreciated, loved. You know your institution does great things – with a great magazine you have the power to tell the world all about it.