WGVU Public Media

Hyper-Personalization of Membership Renewal Letters Increases ROI for WGVU

Increased member retention by 10%.

Increased average gift by $5.

Mailed 20% fewer packages, decreasing costs.


WGVU Public Media, which raises money through membership to their PBS and NPR stations, uses direct mail to engage members and encourage them to renew their memberships.

Depending on where a member is in a renewal cycle, he or she may receive a renewal letter each month for up to eight months. Aside from the obvious time-consuming complexities of managing this many variables, these letters need to educate, engage and create an emotional connection between the member and WGVU. 


Phoenix Innovate has been working with WGVU Public Media for more than 10 years. You’d think that after that much time, there would be very little that could be done to improve upon their fundraising results that we hadn’t already done.

But that wasn’t the case. What we did was dig in even deeper. We analyzed and and used new data attributes that had recently become available after a database upgrade at WGVU, which allowed us to develop new variable content to capture members’ attention and improve on their connection. 

We used our insights-led approach to identify opportunities to engage their membership with more personal and emotionally engaging content. After we analyzed what was driving donor responses, our team created hyper-personalized messaging using these insights to increase response rates, revenue and the ROI of the campaign.

We sent a series of personalized letters with varying messages based on each individual’s past and current involvement with WGVU. The letters created a strong sense of connection and value to the relationship which encouraged recipients to renew their memberships, increase their donation levels and/or upgrade their membership levels. All in all, our team drafted 80 different content variables based on the data in order to create truly unique messaging for every recipient.


Through these efforts, we increased audience engagement while decreasing the number of pieces mailed, resulting in reduced costs and a higher ROI for WGVU Public Media. After the first six months we achieved the following improvements when compared with the previous six months: 

  • We increased member retention by 10%.
  • We mailed 20% fewer packages, decreasing costs.
  • Gross income increased by 6.3%.
  • The average gift increased by $5.
  • Annual donors were moved to sustainers, or monthly donors, further saving mailing costs.