What’s going on at Avalon and in the world of direct marketing fundraising?
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Here’s what I’ve seen and heard online lately:
This month, we describe how we used current events to drive donor appeals and acquisition urgency and messaging.
The 2012 Presidential election was the ideal environment for the League of Women Voters to capitalize on their work, and use high-impact messaging to drive giving. But in an extremely competitive market: how could we make the League stand out? We looked to a growing story in the news for our answer. After the Citizen’s United Decision drastically changed the campaign landscape, small stories started to appear about cookie-cutter legislation pushing for voter ID laws across the country. So we knew we had an issue that was specific to the League’s work, but also had some fire.
I attended the DMAW List Bazaar on May 9 with three of my Avalon colleagues — to hear what’s new in the list world, and to talk about innovations in acquisition strategy.
At this year’s conference, a large focus was on the Internet; specifically, how the web can help grow donor files and provide valuable customer service outreach. Carie Lewis, Deputy Director of Online Communications at the Humane Society of the US (HSUS), gave a great keynote speech about her organization’s adventures in social media. Some takeaways and advice:
Here’s what some of our clients have been up to recently:
Photo taken at the 2013 Hope Awards: (from left) Amy Padre, Amelia Stanley, and Kristen Shank Finn.
It was a beautiful evening on the Chesapeake Bay out of Annapolis when Avalon joined the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for a sunset skipjack trip. It was great to experience firsthand the wonders of the Bay and reminded us all how important it is to save this national treasure.
Recently, Allison Porter, Dara Igersheim, and I attended the 2013 American Museum Membership Conference (AMMC) in Atlanta, which draws museum staff from all over the country, and from varying sizes of museums, for a packed agenda on all facets of membership.
One of the areas discussed at this year’s conference was how, as membership professionals, we are also customer service professionals, seeking to acquire, engage, and retain our customers/members/donors – something arts organizations, in particular, do well.
The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index – which was down in March in anticipation of the sequestration – was up again in April. Says Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board: “Consumer Confidence improved in April, as consumers’ expectations about the short-term economic outlook and their income prospects improved. However, consumers’ confidence has been challenged several times over the past few months by such events as the fiscal cliff, the payroll tax hike and the sequester. Thus, while expectations appear to have bounced back, it is too soon to tell if confidence is actually on the mend.” Not a ringing endorsement for optimism, which signals that although things are improving, there are so many moving parts in the economy and politics that can affect fundraising returns, so keep watching for how changing factors are influencing returns.
In these days of tight budgets and belt tightening, all nonprofits are looking for ways to squeeze every last dollar out of their house files. We’ve found that one of the most effective best practices is to dig deeply into your data to uncover trends and early warning signs that things might be off track.
Avalon VP of Analytics Rick Malchow created an ingenious tool, called Avalon VitalStatsTM (Key Performance Indicator Dashboard), to uncover donor-level trends. A valuable management tool, the Dashboard provides at-a-glance summaries of your program’s current performance metrics compared to prior years, enabling convenient program status monitoring and communications. The summaries include donor counts, giving statistics (overall and by donor type), donor retention rates, and program financial performance.
I had the opportunity to attend this year’s NTEN (Nonprofit Technology Network) Conference recently, along with my colleagues Barb Perell and Jamie Natelson. As usual, the Conference was a stimulating mix of best practices discussions, new ideas, and strategies for how nonprofits can take advantage of technology. Some highlights: