How a stewardship team got a 63% click-through rate with personal video email

Get a strong CTR through personal video email

Learn how Union University used video to create meaningful connections for donors

When you’re in charge of an organization’s stewardship program, you wear many hats. Those hats include connecting donors and your mission, helping supporters understand the importance of your team’s work, and showing where their gifts are being put to use. Trying to figure out the best way to communicate with your donors is always a tough gig. 

About one year ago, Union University was looking to add a personal touch to their donor communication.

Enter Gratavid from Gravyty.

Gratavid is a tool that allows universities to create personalized videos and send them via email and text. Fundraisers use Gratavid to thank donors, report on donations and connect donors with students.

Union University partnered with Gratavid over the past calendar year. The results exceeded expectations.

Our partnership with Gratavid this year has been a huge success. The moment a donor receives a personal video from a student is the moment they feel the most connected to the university and the most satisfied with their giving. Gratavid provides the framework and reduces the administrative burden for staff to make these moments happen. 

Lauren Kennedy, Director of Stewardship and Donor Relations, Union University

The objective

Lauren Kennedy, Director of Stewardship and Donor Relations at Union University, wanted to connect students and donor’s in an impactful way. The team at Union decided to send donors a video from each student they supported through a scholarship. The student would introduce themselves and share how the donor’s gift impacted their lives. 

“We were looking for a way to connect students and donors in a unique and impactful way,” Lauren said.

Lauren and the team were excited about the prospect of connecting hundreds of donors and students, but there were serious logistical concerns that needed to be addressed. How would they manage to keep everything in sync? Could they pull it off without marketing’s help? Would they have to upload each video to Dropbox/Google Drive? Would donors know how to access the files? How would they email the videos out? Not to mention, would Lauren have the time?

The solution

Lauren turned to Gratavid for help.

First, Lauren compiled her list of students who needed to record a video into a CSV file. Next, she used Gratavid’s bulk video request feature to request all of the videos at once.

Gratavid provided an easy way to manage hundreds of student videos to send to hundreds of donors. Utilizing the text message video request function was invaluable as we collected so many videos from students who were currently living all over the country (and some out of the country).

Lauren Kennedy

Once her videos starting rolling in, Lauren was able to associate each student with their corresponding donor via Gratavid’s task list. 

Gratavid task list example for student scholarship stewardship


Union finished the entire year with a unique click-through rate of 63.3%, a unique open rate of 81.4%, and a 22.49% reply rate.

More impressive was the donors’ feedback and responses.

Our donors were ecstatic about receiving the Gratavids. One comment we received from a lifelong donor was ‘This was the best thank you we’ve ever received.’ In addition to the responses we received through Gratavid, our Vice President had several donors who took time to call and thank her for such a meaningful message. We even had a donor write a personal letter as a response to the student who created the Gratavid for her.

Lauren Kennedy

The qualitative data (replies) proves the true impact of the student videos. Below are just a few of the replies Union received.

  • “Wow. That blessed my heart. It is very nice to have a face and story to connect with the financial resources we have been able to give. Neither of my parents had the option of finishing high school, much less college because they were raised by very poor farming families who needed them to work as teenagers during the Great Depression. But they paid for my college yrs at Union and my brother’s at Rhodes. Thank you for this video. I can see dad and mom smiling in heaven because they are still able to help people like this precious young lady.”
  • “I appreciate your video so much.  My dad was the reason I attended Union.  Later I had the privilege of teaching Chemistry at Union, so I established the scholarship in his honor for a Chemistry Major.  I am glad that his scholarship is helping you to achieve your dream of becoming a Pediatrician.  May you have a Blessed future in your chosen profession.”
  • “It is wonderful to receive this message from you.  My sister and I are from Florida so it is lovely you are also from Florida.  My grandmother and grandfather would be thrilled to hear about you and your love of Union (and English!!).  My grandfather was a business manager at Union while my grandmother taught Shakespeare and other English literature classes.  Our very best wishes to you and for your continued success!”

Imagine watching a student share the positive impact that they received from the scholarship created in honor of your loved one or passion area. The impact of the students’ videos is undeniable.

If the role of stewardship is to create a meaningful connection between donors and their impact, it’s hard to find a better example than this past year from Union University.

Lauren’s tips for getting great engagement on your video

  1. Check with the students before sending a video request.
  2. Send video requests via text.
  3. Ask the student to answer how the scholarship has impacted their lives.
  4. Provide an outline – not a script – to guide the student through what they should say in the Gratavid.
  5. Use the task list to stay organized and ensure all donors received and viewed their video.
  6. Use the feature that allows you to send replies back to multiple emails. This allowed me to send emails on behalf of our VP and/or President and ensure they were notified of any reply. They could manage replies directly from their inbox.

Want to receive results like this on your next campaign?

If Lauren has inspired you with her approach to video, you can send your own video emails with Gratavid. Setup is easy and you’ll be recording video and getting incredible results like Lauren in no time. Get your free consultation.

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