ABOUT THE PROJECT

Higher education in Oregon has experienced significant divestment over the last decade. Yet universities remain under pressure to keep tuition costs down, increase faculty salaries, and invest in world-class facilities and programs.

Increasingly, Oregon’s universities must elevate their voice in public policy discussions. Following the recent passage of new governance laws, The Oregon State University Foundation realized it needed a proactive strategy to help lead the conversation around the changing dynamics of higher education.

Quinn Thomas was hired to help guide that process. Our work began with research, including analyzing national best practices for how to create a new advocacy arm of the OSU Foundation. Our team created a communications and brand strategy that resulted in The Beaver Caucus.

Driving investments in higher education

Starting an organization from scratch is a daunting task, particularly when the goal is to identify, recruit, and deploy alumni and supporters of OSU’s public policy objectives.

Our strategy focused on quality over quantity. We used one-on-one conversations, events, and targeted emails to build and recruit a supporter database to send out calls to action – from letter writing campaigns to meetings with state legislators.

In addition to the organization’s branding, our team developed a new website designed to recruit, educate, and deploy alumni advocates. Today, this digital advocacy platform allows alumni to send personalized emails directly to state legislators. Social media engagement has also been critical to the campaign’s success – an effort that includes targeted paid advertising.

On the heels of the organization’s rollout, the Oregon State Legislature increased funding for the higher education system by 22 percent – the largest increase in over 20 years. OSU received a substantial increase in funding for its statewide extension services, and it recently received full bonding authority for its priority capital investments.