University of Michigan Law School


Ann Arbor, MI

Client Challenge

The University of Michigan Law School, one of the most highly regarded law schools in the country, was planning a capital campaign to fund the addition of critical new space on its exceptionally beautiful campus. The school’s leadership had identified concurrent needs to revamp the annual fund, to use its boards and volunteer leaders more effectively and to sharpen its communication with alumni.


Our Approach

Having first asked us to focus the campaign strategy — which we did by working with the campaign leadership, developing a campaign positioning and communications plan and preparing a printed case statement — the School subsequently retained us for a multi-part project addressing the range of fundraising, alumni relations, board relations and communications challenges they faced.

We helped create a substantially new identity for the annual fund, recommended and helped establish a new giving club and helped plant the seeds for re-organization of the volunteer structure at both the advisory board and the annual fund levels.

All of our work was informed by the in-depth, quantitative study of the School’s alumni that we conducted. The study got at everything from giving priorities, to the value and appeal of the School’s magazine and other communications to alumni, to how alumni viewed the School in the year after it had received national attention around the Supreme Court decision concerning affirmative action.


The Results

Our annual fund recommendations proved valuable to Michigan Law as the School sought to increase both alumni participation and the total dollars raised for the annual fund. A workshop we led for the annual fund staff jump-started the changes, and we monitored their progress periodically over the subsequent two years. The alumni study produced concrete recommendations for fundraising, alumni programming and the revamping of the alumni magazine, to reflect the kinds of news and information of greatest interest to alumni.

Our successful partnership on advancement matters led the dean to retain our firm again, in this case to conduct intensive research with prospective students.