How the University of Denver Reaches High-Potential Prospects

We’re back with “Why I Partner With Stelter.”

Started in December 2020 with UNICEF, this series highlights our clients’ wins in planned giving as a result of working with Stelter.

Today, it’s all about the University of Denver and why Jon Kraus, Executive Director of Gift Planning, values their partnership with Stelter.


Jon Kraus remembers sitting on a review committee to determine the direction for the university’s planned giving program and to select a partner to help lead the way. Although Stelter was already working with DU’s development team, the committee wanted to be sure they left no stone unturned.

“What really stood out (from other vendors) was that Stelter offered all the different services we were looking for as well as the quality of service that we were used to,” he says. Stelter rose above the rest.


Using Stelter’s PG Finder analytics program and other data mining tactics, Jon and his Stelter team identified 10,000 high-potential prospects out of DU’s pool of 140,000 alumni.

If drilling down to 10,000 high-potential prospects still feels overwhelming, look at it this way: 140,000 is like a lake and 10,000 is like a prime fishing spot.

Now that Jon had found who—and where—his best planned giving prospects were, he went straight to the “spot” of projected highest returns and didn’t waste time, energy or budget casting into empty waters.

As a result of these deep analytical dives, Jon has been able to zero in on this group and get to know them. Not just in giving propensity, but also in key demographics, like age, marital status, length and types of giving and affiliation to DU. Ultimately, he better understands their stories and giving motivations, and can talk to them about planned giving in meaningful ways.

Jon and his team also carefully time the cadence of planned giving outreach; so that DU feels like a living, trusted friend—not an inanimate, distant entity. For example, DU’s team might send a print newsletter with a donor or impact story (including photos!) and an article about IRA charitable rollovers, followed by a targeted email about how to make a tax-free gift through an IRA.

To donors, this timing, determined by internal development teams and Stelter, appears intentional, with words and stories that relate to donors and inspire them to learn more or make a planned gift.


How you feel about your job affects how well you do your job. No surprise, happiness and confidence go hand in hand.

In fact, 94% of workers in a 2020 Indeed survey said they are happier when they feel confident at work. Ninety-eight percent said they perform better when they feel confident.

For Jon, Stelter’s wealth of planned giving information, plus a deep inventory of resources—like free webinars and access to experts—gives him on-the-job confidence. “Sure, I get information from other sources, but the most up-to-date material has been through Stelter,” he says.


Here’s a list of Jon’s must-haves for continued partnership success and how Stelter’s continually met the need.

1. High-level thinking and strategy.

“We expect that Stelter’s quality will continue at a high level with relevant, research-based information across all our marketing.”

“Stelter definitely delivers on all those points.”

CASE IN POINT: DU leadership discussed bringing planned giving marketing in-house. Jon says he and his team “showed them very quickly the depth of information and expertise Stelter has.” Jon also knows the information is solid, fact-based and backed by sound methodologies. Never shot-in-the-dark marketing, he says.

2. Above-par collateral and customer service.

“My Stelter team and I plan at the beginning of the year and develop a production schedule. I then give it to our internal marketing folks to ensure that all our messages our consistently delivered as one cohesive message.

“Lora (at Stelter) also checks in often and is very willing to try new things or tweak the approach. They’re along with us and working for us.” 

CASE IN POINT: Stelter regularly offers free resources for industry-wide use, not just Stelter clients (e.g., our blog and complimentary webinar series). Everyone benefits from current information and expert resources.

3. Innovation.

“As I’ve looked at other messaging, it’s stale with the same information and look. Stelter’s always looking to innovate and try new things to ensure they deliver results.”

“Stelter’s marketing is clean, fresh.”

CASE IN POINT: Stelter produced a women and planned giving series of collateral for clients to offer to donors. Jon says his clients appreciated the thought. “They loved it!”

We’ll add one of our own must-haves to that list:

4. Results.

Clearly, prospects are engaging, and Jon and his team have made their donors’ and prospects’ journeys informative and fulfilling. DU’s online audience spends on average five to six minutes on the university’s planned giving web page, and the university welcomes 81+ new members annually, on average, into its Pioneer Legacy Society.

With an average 30% open rate and 11%-12% click-through rate on his monthly e-newsletters, Jon says he has confidence that “we’re doing the right thing.”

Discover what the University of Denver’s average planned gift is and the full story of their Stelter partnership in our case study “A Highly Vetted Resource.”  

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