American Friends of the Hebrew University

Company Bio

The American Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (AFHU) is a nonprofit organization based in Manhattan. It serves as a fundraising branch supporting one of Israel’s premier universities. AFHU raises funds from U.S. donors and facilitates collaborations between the Hebrew University and U.S. universities. 


  • Industry: Non Profit
  • Location: New York, New York

Awards & Mentions

  • Finalist: 2022 The Drum Awards for Digital Advertising  


The Ask

At the beginning of their 2021 fiscal year, AFHU approached ESM with the primary marketing goals of:

  1. Driving engagement among previously unexposed users
  2. Increasing traffic to their website
  3. Generating organic inquiries about their brand
  4. Increasing donations to support the research and work of Hebrew University

The Challenge

Prior to AFHU’s 2021 fiscal year, the audience strategy for all campaigns was persona based. While this drove strong new user engagement, it did not include a strong re-engagement strategy to nurture newly acquired users. Therefore, we developed a campaign strategy that grouped audience personas into two, broader categories – retention audiences and acquisition audiences – which allowed for more granular targeting and optimizations to be made at the audience level, in addition to meaningful creative segmentation and more actionable reporting.

Why it Worked

The Approach

Using first party data owned by AFHU, we categorized users into 4 distinct categories:

  1. Alumni
  2. Donors
  3. Social Media Acquired Leads
  4. Web Owned users

We calculated the estimated reach and average donation size of the audience segments in order to make informed budget recommendations. This segmentation also allowed us to deploy tailored creative and messaging to each cohort. 

The Solution

While we understood the importance of driving new users toward the brand, we also wanted to develop a media plan that balanced acquisition efforts and continued engagement among their existing community. Using a data-based approach that took highly curated audience segments and cost efficacies into consideration, we allocated two campaign efforts—a “Retention” campaign and an “Acquisition” campaign.  This also allowed for more granular targeting and optimization, segmentation throughout the funnel, and more meaningful data to be gathered.


Campaign Results

To date, this campaign is AFHU’s most highly targeted, strategically allocated, and successful campaign. Since the implementation of this media plan in the Fall of 2020, we’ve seen a dramatic increase across all KPI’s: from media performance and engagements to web traffic and the value of user on site activity. Our approach focused on specific cost efficacies, assigned clear definition to how and when users are defined as new vs. existing, and provided us with an opportunity to further define our media funnel.