Case Study:

Velocity Pittsburgh

Velocity Logo


In 2015, The Benter Foundation, in partnership with the Forbes Funds, approached Achieve with a goal of increasing the fundraising knowledge and skill set of Pittsburgh area nonprofits. Thus, the Velocity program was developed to address the fundraising and marketing needs of nonprofits in this area. The program focuses on a combination of research and campaigns to facilitate the greatest level of capacity building, with the goal of increasing effectiveness in fundraising and enhancing the skills and abilities of these nonprofits to create solicitations to drive donor interest.


The overall purpose of Velocity was to strengthen the fundraising strategies and execution of nonprofits in the Pittsburgh region. In addition to public sessions available to all local nonprofits, six Pittsburgh-area nonprofit organizations were chosen to form a cohort, which received public training sessions, private consulting and analysis of current and past fundraising strategies. The cohort program culminated with Achieve designing and developing unique multichannel end-of-year campaigns for each organization.


For each campaign, Achieve developed the direction, copy and design of a complete direct mail package (including one letter, one response envelope and one outer envelope), a sequence of three follow-up email solicitations and two website graphics. Each component followed a consistent theme, which the Achieve team developed with the organization to communicate its impact on an individual’s life.


From 2014 to 2015, the cohort organizations collectively increased total funds raised, number of total donors, number of new donors, average gift amounts and average response rates. Email solicitations this year were also very successful: Overall, 2015 email campaigns outperformed 2014 email campaigns, and the cohort organizations performed better than the national average in nearly every capacity.


  • Overall, the cohort organizations raised $19,614.70 more in 2015 than in 2014.
  • Email solicitations generated $27,662 more in 2015 than in 2014.
  • 156 more donors gave in 2015 than in 2014 for the cohort.
  • 45 new donors gave in 2015.
  • From 2014 to 2015, the average gift across all cohort organizations increased $2.34.
  • The average response rate for direct mail increased 0.7% from 2014 to 2015.
  • Collectively, the average email response rate for all cohort organizations was 89% higher than the national average.
  • Individually, the average email response rate for all cohort organizations performed better than the national average.
  • Overall, the average online gift was $90.81 higher than the national average.
  • Individually, all cohort organizations had a higher average online gift than the national average.


Based on the results and best practices each organization learned throughout their time in the Velocity program, each organization is now positioned to increase its fundraising effectiveness in future endeavors.

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