Creative RFP Issued By University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin (“University”) Office of Development (“Texas Development”) seeks to work with a creative agency to lead strategic marketing and communications efforts of its current multibillion dollar fundraising campaign, What Starts Here. The What Starts Here campaign (“Campaign”) will be the largest fundraising campaign in University’s history and likely one of the largest among public universities across the nation. Campaign silently launched in Fall 2016. In Fall 2018, Campaign was introduced to top donors, prospects, and University leadership at a private event attended by approximately 900 guests. A public launch is planned for Spring 2022 with an expected completion date of Fall 2025.

Campaign Areas of Focus:

                • Unlocking Student Potential – University wants to attract students from Texas and around the world who will be the leaders of tomorrow. Support from donors will help fund scholarships and experiential learning opportunities.

                • Recruiting and Retaining the Best Faculty – If students are the lifeblood, then faculty are the heart of the University. By investing in faculty endowments and research, donors will ensure University recruits top talent in teaching and scientific discovery.

                • Transforming Health Care – By pairing University’s bold research with Dell Medical School’s new approach to medical education, University will become a hub of health innovation.

                • Creating a Vibrant Future for Texas and Beyond – University fuels the future. With donor support, the University will revolutionize energy exploration, computing, commerce, humanities and much more. Together, University ideas will be launched into the greater world.

Campaign Goals Include:

·         Exceed $4 billion in gifts received by Fall 2025.

·         Achieve $2-2.5 billion in gifts received by public launch in Spring 2022.

·         Achieve unprecedented success in principal/leadership giving. Secure 50-75 gifts of $10M+ totaling $1.5 to $2 billion (30-45% of Campaign total).

·         Focus on support for students. Receive gifts for academic scholarships, study abroad, experiential learning opportunities, research fellowships, or other student-focused programs which will account for $1 billion of Campaign total.

1.3 Objective of Request for Proposal

The University of Texas at Austin (“University”) is soliciting proposals in response to this Request for Proposal RFP No. 721-2006 (this “RFP”) from qualified vendors to perform work (“Work”) more specifically described in Section 5 (Scope of Work) of this Request for Proposal, including:

                1. Brand alignment

                2. Creative, strategic marketing, advertising, and;

                3. Fundraising Campaign Management


The University of Texas at Austin is the largest academic component of The University of Texas System, a major research university, and home to more than 50,000 students and 24,000 faculty and staff members.

The University of Texas was established by the state legislature in 1881; by popular vote, the Main University was located at Austin and the Medical Branch at Galveston. The Austin campus was opened in September, 1883, with a faculty of eight (8) and a student body of 218. The central campus has grown from 40 to more than 360 acres, while the student body has increased to about 38,000 undergraduates and 12,000 graduate students. In 1967, with the creation of The University of Texas System, the name of the Main University was changed to The University of Texas at Austin.

Through teaching, research, and public service, the University’s activities support its core purpose:

To transform lives for the benefit of society through the core values of learning, discovery, freedom, leadership, individual opportunity, and responsibility.

University students represent both the diverse population of the state and the full range of contemporary scholarship: an undergraduate may choose courses from more than 160 fields of study while pursuing any of more than 100 majors. Undergraduate study is supported by extensive mainframe and microcomputer facilities and by one of the largest academic libraries in the nation. Students also benefit from the broad range of scholarly and technical research conducted by the faculty and the research staff.

The city of Austin, with a population of about 820,000, is a relaxed and cosmopolitan setting for the University. The city is home to respected professional communities in theatre, dance, art, and music offering a wide range of cultural events. Students may also take part in recreational activities made possible by the temperate climate and Austin’s location in the Hill Country of central Texas.

The University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and is one of three Southwestern members of the Association of American Universities.

Scope of Work:

Capital Campaign Needs:

                A. Strategic messaging that creates strong, consistent communication about capital Campaign and fundraising priorities from internal sources including academic leaders, gift officers, and communications teams across campus.

                B. Messaging that highlights Campaign fundraising priorities with specific emphasis on stories of donor impact as told by students.

                C. Targeted marketing (soft message and call to action) to top 20,000 major donor prospects      (gift capacity of $100,000+). The goal is that all major donor prospects understand how their gifts will make an impact.

                D. Comprehensive creative and strategic support throughout Campaign lifecycle – research, strategy, deliverables, measurable results from silent phase to public launch to thank you/stewardship.

                E. Event strategy and creative for public launch, public thank you event, and other events throughout Campaign.

                F. Content strategy and execution that helps elevate all Texas Development communications to best-in-class.

                G. Messaging toolkit for gift officers including talking points, print collateral and videos that         highlight Campaign fundraising priorities and stories of donor impact.

A. Research and Discovery (Fall 2019 – Spring 2020)

Contractor will:

                1. Conduct stakeholder interviews with Texas Development leadership and gift officers to           determine baseline Campaign understanding and University brand strengths, weaknesses,                 opportunities and challenges as well as to gain perspective from frontline gift officers on the           tools and resources required to meet goals.

                2. Conduct interviews with CSU leadership/deans to discover and explore “big ideas” and            themes that have greatest potential to resonate with top donors. This may include one-on-one    interviews or small focus group discussions.

                3. Conduct interviews with top donors and Campaign volunteers to gain insights on their              motivations for giving, University brand perception, University aspirations, social influencers,     beliefs, behaviors, values, proof points, etc. This may include select one-on-one interviews, small     focus group discussions, and/or email surveys with select donor groups.

                4. Identify Campaign messaging/branding that best resonates with principal/major gift donors (top 20,000 donors) and aligns with University brand/tagline, “What starts here changes the                world.”

                5. Develop capital Campaign message platform that aligns University/presidential            communications and development campaigns

                6. Identify target donor segments and develop donor audience personas.

                7. Identify best channels/means for communicating with donors/prospects and provide strategic             direction for creative execution.

                B. Creative Development, Strategy and Execution (Spring 2020 – Summer 2021)

Contractor will:

                1. Design and develop overarching capital Campaign branding, storytelling strategy and                 collateral template for CSUs, major gift officers, communications team, University leadership,          and Campaign volunteers.

                2. Design and develop branding and storytelling strategy/template for each of the Campaign      fundraising focus areas:

                • Student support

                • Faculty support

                • Healthcare

                • Vibrant Texas

                3. Develop digital strategy for capital Campaign collateral via social, email, and web.

                4. Design and produce videos (3-4 minutes in length) that highlight each of the Campaign focus areas that will be shared with major donors/prospects.

                5. Design and produce videos (30-60 seconds in length) that highlight stories of philanthropic      impact that will be shared with major donors/prospects.

                6. Develop creative strategy for donor engagement and on/off campus activations for   Philanthropy Week events in Spring 2021.

C. Phase One (1) Deliverables:

                Contractor will meet the following deliverables:

                1. Develop interview guide and conduct interviews with individual internal and external stakeholders.

                2. Develop questions/format and conduct small focus group discussions with select major donors and gift officers.

                3. Develop email survey for broader major donor audience.

                4. Provide research insights and analysis based on interviews, focus groups and survey results.

                5. Develop major donor audience personas and identify target donor segments for Campaign outreach/messaging.

                6. Provide overall Campaign message platform and message platforms for each of the four Campaign priorities.

                7. Develop creative concepts for Campaign branding and guidelines for execution through various digital and print media.

                8. Provide comprehensive, strategic marketing and communications plan for promoting Campaign to major donor audience segments leading up to public launch.

                9. Produce creative strategy and production of various videos, as needed.

Due Date:

Friday, November 22, 2019 


The University of Texas at Austin

1616 Guadalupe St., Suite 3.302

Austin, Texas 78701

Relevant agencies include Finn Partners and Coyne PR.

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