Case Study: University of Toronto – Defy Gravity Campaign

Oct 25, 2022

Defy Gravity

Building a compelling fundraising website for the University of Toronto 

Fundraising by organizations presents a steep challenge, given the current financial strain on many Canadians. The University of Toronto looked to us to develop a website to kick start the largest university fundraising and alumni engagement campaign in Canadian history. The Defy Gravity campaign seeks to inspire the community to support the University on its journey to create, collaborate and thrive.  

The University asked Pixels & Pencils and its sister agency, Foster Interactive, to develop a new website for its $4-billion fundraising campaign. The largest university fundraising and alumni engagement campaign in Canadian history, the goal of Defy Gravity is to fund research and collaboration to address some of the world’s most pressing issues. The website had to be a very effective, inspiring gateway to the campaign. 

Highlighting the University’s Contributions 

The campaign has two goals. Firstly, to inspire 225,000 people among the University’s alumni to get involved as volunteers, mentors, donors, participants and leaders, and to encourage them to contribute their time and talent to the University one million times collectively. Secondly, to help harness the power of U of T’s global community to raise $4-billion to help fuel vital work at the University and support its highest priorities. 

The Defy Gravity campaign seeks to elevate U of T’s position as one of the world’s leading public universities and show its impact in solving complex social, economic, and health problems. The site had to inspire potential donors by communicating the University’s various funds and the important work being done by faculty and students thanks to these programs. We built clear features on the home page of some of the important initiatives, including Black-led research and scholarship; transforming drug discovery
to improve health; and creating high-impact clean energy solutions. 

A Unique Identity for Defy Gravity

Our key challenge during this project was to solidify the brand identity for Defy Gravity and align all internal stakeholders in support of the VIS. As part of our ongoing relationship with U of T, for which we have designed and built several websites, we used our deep familiarity with the University’s brand to create a distinct site that was both visually rich and informative, but also fit the institution’s overall branding. The look and structure of the site had to appeal to a wide range of potential donors — from alumni to corporate donors, current staff and students. 

We worked with the client to set the visual parameters, defining a visual identity for the campaign and securing approval from internal stakeholders – up to the highest levels of the university. This identity would then form the basis of all campaign communications vehicles – including social media, direct marketing, campus marketing and more. 

The result was a compelling identity and website for Defy Gravity to inspire the community to support U of T on its journey to thrive.  

For more information please visit Defy Gravity


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