Our clients have some wonderful gift-giving opportunities that you will want to check out this holiday season! Here are just a few:
Proceeds from purchases made in Farm Sanctuary's shop directly support its lifesaving work on behalf of farm animals.
Be sure to check out all of the holiday performances happening at the Kennedy Center right now, as well as gifts in the Center’s online store for the holiday season.
Give the Earth the gift of trees! Celebrate Christmas, a birthday, anniversary, or other special event for a friend or family member… every dollar you donate will plant a tree in honor of that special person. In addition, Recipients will receive a certificate stating the number of trees planted in their name.
Visit the Museum’s annual Art Market Saturday, December 7, and Sunday, December 8, from 10:00 am - 5:30 pm to purchase traditional and contemporary works by some of the finest Native artists. Member preview day takes place on Friday, December 6, 4:30 pm – 7:30 pm.
Don’t miss the Museum’s Holiday Gift Market Monday, December 2 - Wednesday, December 4 in the Museum’s Great Hall for unique items and gifts made by women artists and designers. Members receive double discounts (20%)!
This month’s case studies feature two instances where a shift in creative approach resulted in much-improved appeal response rates.
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Holiday Appeal
Objective: Not wanting to forgo the traditionally blockbuster holiday and year-end giving season because of NCMEC’s potentially sad message, Avalon designed a creative appeal that would honor the organization’s mission, while compelling donors to make a contribution.
Strategy and Audience: Addressing a heart-rending topic – missing and exploited children – at a time when many people are joyously gathering with their families, can be a daunting challenge. Avalon’s creative approach was to appeal for donors’ help in making other families’ gatherings whole again. We developed the compelling narrative of an empty chair at the holiday table, to draw in the donors and express broken families’ need for support and compassion – without overpowering donors with the frightening thought of a missing child at holiday time. The letter explained that through donor support, NCMEC helps to make sure that thousands of those chairs are filled with safe, happy children celebrating the holidays with their families. This heartfelt message from NCMEC President John Walsh – along with the image of a vulnerable child – struck the perfect balance between despair and hope; loss and recovery; grief and celebration. The red carrier and real return address label added to the appeal’s personal feel. We mailed to NCMEC’s 0-12 month donors ($10-$999) and 13-24 month donors ($50-999).
Results: This holiday appeal produced the highest gross and net revenues in NCMEC’s donor program history, beating the previous highest grossing appeal by 19%! The response rate was 43% higher than the previous year’s November appeal, and the average gift was 19% higher. New joins had a response rate of 8.7%, and multi-year members responded at 12.47%. Even lapsed donors responded at 3.38%.
• The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts recently announced the 36th annual Kennedy Center Honors recipients – five deserving and talented artists who will be celebrated for their contribution to American culture through the performing arts. This year’s honorees are opera singer Martina Arroyo; pianist, keyboardist, bandleader, and composer Herbie Hancock; pianist, singer, and songwriter Billy Joel; actress Shirley MacLaine; and musician and songwriter Carlos Santana. The Kennedy Center and President and Mrs. Obama will pay tribute to these extraordinary honorees at a Gala on December 8 – but since most of us can’t make it to this spectacular show in person, we can see all the highlights when it’s broadcast on CBS on December 29 at 9:00 p.m. Learn more about the honorees and the Gala celebration at the Kennedy Center’s website.
• Hurry! The American Horticultural Association’s online auction has begun, so visit AHS’s website to bid on once-in-a-lifetime garden tour packages offered at some of the most beautiful public gardens across America. From George Washington’s Mount Vernon, to the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center – and many more – each garden’s creators and leaders will take auction winners behind the scenes on a personal tour. Auction proceeds will support AHS’s outreach efforts to children and gardeners of all ages and skill levels. Bidding closes at noon on October 27, so don’t miss out.
• Save the date! The National Museum of Women in the Arts is holding a trunk show for acclaimed jewelry designer Diane Liljestrom from October 31 through November 1, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Ms. Liljestrom will be on hand to discuss her unique designs and help you choose the piece that’s right for you. Visit NMWA’s website for more information and to see some examples of this exquisite jewelry.
• The National Museum of African American History and Culture* will opens its doors on the National Mall in 2015, but until then, the National Museum of American History has devoted a gallery to the NMAAHC, to offer important and fascinating exhibits. From December 14 through September 7, 2014, the NMAAHC Gallery will present Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963. As described on the Museum’s website, In 2013 the country will commemorate two events that changed the course of the nation – the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and the 1963 March on Washington…[This exhibition] explores the historical context of these two crucial events, their accomplishments and limitations, and their impact on the generations that followed.
• The National Museum of the American Indian* is the site of a terrific ongoing show: Grand Procession: Dolls from the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection, open from now until January 5, 2014. As NMAI describes it, this exhibition celebrates Native identity through 23 colorful and meticulously detailed objects that are much more than dolls. Traditionally made by female relatives using buffalo hair, hide, porcupine quills, and shells, figures like these have long served as both toys and teaching tools for American Indian communities. And on Saturday, October 26, visit the Museum to experience a centuries-old tradition – the annual Día de los Muertos ("Day of the Dead"). This celebration originated in Latin America, and is a time to commemorate the lives of the dearly departed and welcome the return of their spirits. This lively event is a chance to learn about and participate in ancient practices, including pre-Hispanic and Spanish customs. Check out NMAI’s website for more information on its Día de los Muertos events.
• The Bridge to Integrated Marketing and Fundraising Conference always gives us the opportunity to soak up lots of insights and information from our friends and colleagues in the industry. And we’re proud to report that Avalon staff and clients were out in force at this year’s Bridge. Galapagos Conservancy President Johannah Barry presented an inspiring keynote; Laura Connors, Deputy VP of Membership for the National Parks Conservation Association, Nancy Sturm, former Senior Director of Development for the League of Women Voters, now Managing Director of Development at Common Cause, and our VP of Analytics, Rick Malchow wowed a full house with their America’s Next Top Model presentation on how data modeling improves results; and our VP of Marketing, Mark Grayer and Fundraising Program Manager Bill Tucker led a session called Political Fundraising/Engagement…When You are NOT Running for President. You can watch Johannah Barry’s keynote address, and all of the other presentations from this year’s Bridge here.
• The American Horticultural Society holds its 20th annual Gala on September 21 – promising to be another spectacular evening at AHS’s gorgeous River Farm in Virginia. As described on AHS’s website: To benefit the stewardship of River Farm and the AHS's outreach programs, this year's gala "Moonlight in the Garden" will include a formal dinner, silent auction, online auction, live jazz, and moonlit strolls through the gardens. Avalon client, U.S. Senator Mark Warner and his wife Lisa Collis are the honorary chairs of the event. For more information and tickets, visit the AHS website.
• The Smithsonian museums like the National Museum of the American Indian are free every day, but to share that spirit, Smithsonian Magazine is encouraging museums all over the country to participate in Museum Day Live! This year’s Museum Day Live! is on Saturday, September 28, when participating museums charge no admission to anyone presenting a Museum Day Live! ticket. To learn more about this fantastic event, and to get your free ticket, visit Smithsonian Magazine’s website.
These case studies feature three 2013 MAXI Award-winning online campaigns. The first describes how we modify messaging by effort and by donor to maximize results. The next case study explores an e-Renewal start-up program, and how its multi-channel focus benefited all channels. The third case study reviews how a tried-and-true campaign was bumped to launch an online emergency appeal, with terrific results.
National Museum of the American Indian E-Renewal Series
Objective: NMAI had a basic monthly e-Renewal series in place, but members received the same renewal email every month. To improve performance and renewal integration, Avalon sought to more closely tailor the messages by effort and to individual donors.
Strategy and Audience: A new series was designed and implemented to personalize each effort, renew more members, and raise more money. First, an R0 effort was added that was sent five months prior to expire and one month prior to the R1 mail and email, to encourage more members to renew early. The copy, including subject lines, was completely revamped to complement the mail, use more compelling institutional renewal language, and increase the urgency as the series progressed.
For example, the R3 (sent in the month of expire) highlighted a specific deadline (e.g., Your membership expires on Sunday) to increase urgency. The asks in the email and on the landing page were personalized to each member’s previous giving level, while also promoting a membership upgrade. Finally, expire groups were grouped together to streamline implementation.
Results: Tailored messaging and ask strings paid off big time, improving the overall e-Renewal series across several metrics: gross revenue up by 57%, response rate up by 25%, a 44% increase in the number of members renewed, and a 9% increase in average gift from the same time period as the previous fiscal year (April-November). NMAI’s new e-Renewal Series was the perfect solution to increase renewal rates, and complemented the direct mail perfectly – and the series has not affected performance in other channels.
The Trustees of Reservations e-Renewal Series:
Objective: The Trustees of Reservations had no online efforts to supplement its direct mail renewal program, and with a largely membership-based constituency, Avalon knew the best way to expand renewals would be to use a multi-channel approach — integrating an online element to maximize renewal revenue and increase member retention rates. An effective rolling e-Renewal program was just the ticket.
Strategy and Audience: Like the direct mail series, e-Renewals were sent monthly, on a rolling basis. The series began with R1, sent to donors three months before their membership expiration, and ended with R3, which donors received in their month of expire. We also incorporated a quarterly lapsed effort, emailing donors who were lapsed as far back as 48 months from the R1 expire month.
The emails reflected the over-arching message of preserving special places, and included evocative photographs from The Trustees’ properties. A personalized asking string was also implemented — based on previous giving history — to ensure a strong renewal average gift appropriate to each member. Each member’s donation page was customized to pre-select the level above his or her current giving to encourage member upgrading.
Results: The e-Renewals surpassed all budgeted and non-budgeted expectations with a very high 3.52% response rate (compared to the industry standard of 0.08% for fundraising emails — based on M+R’s 2012 eNonprofit Benchmark Study). The average gift was a remarkable $92.19, in part due to the individualized ask strategy that encouraged members to upgrade, which helped many donors to renew at levels over $100. In fact, the average monthly upgrade rate was extremely high at 16%.
The combined direct mail and email renewal results indicate that the overall multi-channel strategy is working to generate significantly more revenue. FY13 combined has already exceeded FY12, and is 21% ahead of last year’s renewals.
Don’t Miss the 31st Annual Hampton Bay Days! Hampton Bay Days – the spectacular festival that began in Hampton, Virginia in 1982 as a way to educate people about the importance of the Chesapeake Bay – returns from September 6-8 in downtown Hampton, brought to you by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. According the Hampton Bay Days website, “The on-going goal has been to provide an entertaining atmosphere while ultimately serving a greater purpose of highlighting aspects of the Chesapeake Bay and promoting its upkeep and preservation.”
It’s also a ton of fun: “The free outdoor festival is one of the largest family-friendly events and largest ‘Green’ events on the entire east coast,” with 200,000 visitors expected this year.
Just a quick reminder that the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington – where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his I Have a Dream speech and changed the world – will be celebrated with a march and rally on Saturday, August 24 in Washington, DC. Several Avalon clients are commemorating and joining the March on that day:
• The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ website includes details on how to record your memories and photos of the 1963 march, a sign-up page to meet up and march/rally with (or join) the Leadership Conference staff, coalition members, and other allied organizations on August 24, as well as information on commemorative marches to be held around the country that day.
• The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force will also be out in force on August 24. As Darlene Nipper, Task Force Deputy Executive Director put it, "Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were in the crowd 50 years ago, including the lead organizer of the march, Bayard Rustin. And five decades later, we are extremely honored to be part of this historic march where we will continue, in unity with the larger civil rights community, the long process of renewing, repairing and restoring the vision of full equality for all.” Go to the Task Force’s website for more information and to meet up with the Task Force group before the march.
• On August 28, the National Constitution Center will hold a celebration for the 50th anniversary at its headquarters, with local actors reading the I Have a Dream speech, followed by a concert and a variety of interactive programs and workshops, free with general admission to the museum. For more information, check out NCC’s website.
One of the many perks of working with arts clients like the Kennedy Center is having the opportunity to see the performances they create. Two Avalon employees, Page Albrecht and Lucy Quinn, attended the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Anything Goes at the Kennedy Center Opera House. The show was creative, funny, and delightful to see.
The Supreme Court's recent decisions on affirmative action, voting rights, and marriage equality will have far-reaching positive and negative effects on social justice. While we can celebrate progress towards marriage equality, the Voting Rights Act decision is devastating. Below are some excerpts from the statements made by some of our clients about these landmark decisions:
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force on marriage equality:
“Today’s historic decisions are a significant leap forward for freedom and justice for same-sex couples and their families, the LGBT community and for our nation—and a lot more work needs to be done to deliver marriage equality to the rest of our nation’s same-sex couples and their families and full equality in every other respect for all LGBT people,” said Rea Carey, Task Force Executive Director.
The Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.
On the Proposition 8 case, the lower federal court had ruled it to be unconstitutional—and the High Court today allowed this ruling to stand. Marriage equality is now reestablished in California.
In all, the federal government will now recognize the marriages of same-sex couples and couples will be able to marry once again in California, our nation’s most populous state.
“These rulings mean stronger families and communities across our nation: Millions of same-sex married couples will gain access to all of the benefits associated with marriage. These include: health care, Social Security, housing and income security—all key components of the American Dream,” Carey said.
“However, those legally married same-sex couples (and widows or widowers) who have moved to—or now live in—a state that discriminates against their marriages, may face barriers to their federal marital protections. We will fight this.”
The Task Force’s full statement can be found here.
A few weeks ago, Production Advantage, one of our valued partners, invited Avalon and the Kennedy Center staff on a Go-Karting adventure. It was a fun opportunity to get to know each other a little better. The day was complete with a delicious lunch, silly race names, full race-track suits, and mini gold trophies. Production Advantage dominated the race track, taking 1st, 2nd , and 3rd places (we secretly think they practiced just to beat us)! We may not have won one of those coveted gold trophies, but we all had a blast! So, thank you Production Advantage for being a terrific partner – on the track and off!