Non-Profit Case Study: Snider Hockey


Snider’s Hockey is a nationally acclaimed non-profit organization founded by Ed Snider, Philadelphia Flyers Chairman, Comcast-Spectacor, and Founder. Its mission is to educate and empower under-resourced youth in Philadelphia using hockey principles to promote academic, career, and life success. Since 2005, Snider Hockey has helped tens of thousands of students build a foundation for lifelong achievement. They provide participants access to its programs at no cost through its contributors’ generosity, making a successful big ask critical for securing much-needed funding. For the fourth consecutive year, Snider Hockey selected us as its print-driven communications partner for its 2021 annual solicitation campaign, entrusting our team to produce campaign materials requesting large gifts.


The first challenge of Snider Hockey’s 2021 solicitation campaign was determining the best method for acquiring the most funding from a relatively small donor base. Snider Hockey is not a national charity with a broad reach and national press. Instead, it is a local non-profit with a modest list of 525 affluent individuals and large corporations from the tri-state area. While several megadonors have stepped up to the plate, they were seeking additional heavy hitters to reach their programming goals for the upcoming year.

Another campaign challenge was creating a design strategy to elicit the best response rate to Snider Hockey’s big ask. The organization’s Development team provided dozens of pages of information, statistics, and written copy. However, we needed to present these critical elements in a way that the donor base could easily digest, recognize as part of the Snider Hockey brand, and – most importantly – grasp the remarkable, wide-ranging impact the organization is making on Philadelphia’s youth.

This final challenge of the campaign was outlining a strategy for segmenting Snider Hockey’s data set and personalizing the materials to promote a higher response rate. Our decades of experience tell us that when an organization makes a high-impact “big ask” to megadonors, a generic “dear sir” or “dear madam” approach was unlikely to bring the high-value donations that Snider Hockey was seeking. Our execution must be more tailored and sophisticated.


In response to the initial challenge of making the big ask to a medium-sized, niche donor base, we wanted to boost the likelihood of large gifts with an Impact Report, a powerful storytelling tool for non-profits. A well-designed Impact Report uses carefully constructed text and graphics to illustrate the impact of donor contributions. This tool is particularly useful for appealing to Snider Hockey’s high-end givers, assuring them of the difference they can make in the lives of Philadelphia youth.

When designing and constructing the Impact Report, our expert team incorporated visually stunning graphics and other stylistic elements to bring the organization’s statistics and copy to life. We used colors and graphics aligned with Snider Hockey’s brand, creating brand equity for cohesiveness and at-a-glance recognition. We applied unique design features to enhance the visual appeal, including a centerfold scoreboard highlighting the most powerful impact statistics and a cornucopia of youth and staff photographs. Varied and coordinating fonts and strategic placement of whitespace round out this report’s alluring design features.

Finally, we helped Snider Hockey establish a more personalized solicitation conversation with their donor base to improve response rates. We strategically segmented their donor list into the following three categories using a sophisticated mail merge technology:

  1. Chairman’s Club – A philanthropic society of large donors that has supported this year
  2. Previous donors – People and organizations that have given before, but not this year
  3. New donors – People and organizations who have not given yet

Our execution strategy was to mail the Impact Report, a personalized letter, and a personalized response envelope with an ask tailored for each segment. For instance, previous donors received thank-you messaging and a request to give again, whereas new donors received solely the big ask. Similarly, previous donors received response envelopes based on their past giving level, whereas new donors received different response envelopes. Chairman’s Club donors simply received a gracious thank you for their support this year. Based on our experience, we know that customizing and personalizing print communications in this way is an essential strategy for requesting large gifts.


Thanks to Snider Hockey’s incredible impact and our strategic direction, we were able to design, construct, and execute an intelligent big ask print campaign, including a stunning 40-page, rounded-corner, full-color 2020 Impact Report called Building Lives and Uniting Communities. We helped this local non-profit leverage our results-based design expertise and the latest variable data printing (VDP) and database management technologies to reach and influence its highly niche audience. Our teams collaborated on strategy, design, proofs, and finalization every step of the way, culminating in a printed and mailed final product in early March 2021.