University of Pittsburgh: Young Alumni Giving and Engagement

Public University
Pittsburgh, PA
Customer Since:

The University of Pittsburgh annual giving program collaborates with the Pitt Alumni Association to use Signal Vine to message young alumni. Specifically, the team is targeting alumni who have graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in the last ten years.


The Pitt annual giving team wanted to create a communication channel that recent graduates would be likely to respond to. Additionally, this channel would be the primary driver of engagement and annual giving. The team realized that channels like email or phone are not always the preferred method of communication for this population. Pitt’s intention for text messaging is to meet these young alumni where they operate most. In addition, with a team of four, they realized they needed a scalable tool to reach a large alumni population. 


The team evaluated a total of six vendors before deciding on a platform to support the text message initiative. Ultimately, they chose Signal Vine because the platform offered the best mix of automation, a robust implementation process, and personalized support. The team valued the two-way message program to engage and connect with alumni while also finding a channel for large-scale outreach communication. With a total of four Pitt team members, the team relied heavily on automated replies to sort through common responses. They also allowed the platform to flag responses that required an individual team member reply. The Pitt team contacted Signal Vine for a demo request in early October. Six weeks later, they successfully launch their young alumni program including over 53,000 text messages to 17,000 alumni.

The program included five different young alumni outreach sequences. This included outreach to 1) those that have not yet donated 2) those that have donated in the past but the gift designation is unknown 3) those that have donated and their gift designation is known 4) those that donated last year but gift designation is unknown 5) those that donated last year and gift designation is known. 


Early results from the text program to young alumni include over 3,500 inbound messages, a very low opt-out rate, a solid engagement rate, and some very positive qualitative feedback. A few alumni responses included:

“Hi Sarah, I love this new texting fundraising! Much better for connect than by phone for our generation. ☺” -2010 Pitt Alumni

“I also donated a little $$, just what I could at the moment, because of your outreach efforts. Hail to Pitt!” –2007 Pitt Alumni

“Oh hi, Sarah for sure! How can I give today?” –2012 Pitt Alumni

Overall, the annual giving team felt that the text program was an overwhelming success which they presented to division leadership. Going forward they will roll out a program to the entire alumni population and create an opt-in program, confirm contact information, and use Signal Vine for their annual Pitt Day of Giving each February.

The results from Pitt’s first alumni text campaign also included 205 completed interest forms which tell Pitt more about this preferred method of communication and engagement. The average gift from text was $45.89 and the percentage yield from text was .511% in comparison to a yield of .036% from email.

Sarah Webb, Assistant Director, Annual Giving- Young Alumni Engagement
University of Pittsburgh

Signal Vine provided us the best option for establishing relationships with young alumni who do not currently engage and/or give to the institution. The ability to scale and personalize conversation really resonated with our staff while also allowing us the opportunity to respond individually when needed. Signal Vine is without question the best text messaging platform we have seen for higher education.

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