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Displaying Posts by Category: Avalon Insights

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.

NTEN Conference Wrap-up 2013

Thursday, 25 April 2013 09:34

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:

MailSmart Logistics is out with a terrific blog called How Can Mailers Prepare for Five Day USPS Mail Delivery? Since they posted this piece, some members of Congress have introduced a bill to keep six-day mail delivery, and as I write this, we don't know if this legislation will be successful. What we do know is that five-day deliver will affect all mailers (catalogs, magazines, nonprofits, etc.), so in the event that it becomes reality, we need to be prepared. The MailSmart blog describes how the volume of mail people receive each day will increase with five-day delivery, so we will all need to find a way to make our mail stand out even more. Here are MailSmart’s recommendations for getting ready for five-day delivery:

DMA Conference Highlights

Friday, 22 February 2013 16:49

I had the pleasure of attending this year’s Direct Marketing Association (DMA) annual conference recently with my colleagues Rick Malchow and Jackie Biancolli. Some of the key takeaways for us:

What Motivates Arts Donors to Give?

Friday, 22 February 2013 15:19

One of the puzzles that keeps us all guessing in the field of nonprofit fundraising is what it is that motivates donors to give. Long or short letter? Benefits? Envelope teasers? Institutional messaging? Unfortunately, as we all know, the only way to find out is through consistent, ongoing testing.


Any marketer who’s tried guessing which test will outperform the control knows that in reality, no one can say every time what motivates donors. Not even donors! But we can make some educated guesses, especially when it comes to arts donors.

As usual, the commercial world is probably a few years ahead of the non-profit world. The myriad of consumer and psychographic data collected from the Internet, catalogs, and retail stores — Big Data —may or may not prove invaluable to nonprofits. Some of the pioneer donor co-ops are extracting effective models from this mound of raw data (see Jeff Mello’s FYI piece about co-ops and compiled lists), but the fact remains that in the nonprofit arena, there is no variable more predictive than the fact that an individual has recently given a philanthropic gift.

Online Fundraising Year-end Review

Tuesday, 15 January 2013 10:39

As we continue to draw conclusions from Avalon clients’ online fundraising year-end results, here are some overall impressions:

In Defense of Telemarketing

Wednesday, 19 September 2012 14:35

From the recent Bloomberg article, to the feature on the Today Show to the cover of the Washington Post Business section, it’s clear that telemarketing is under attack – more specifically, the ethics of telemarketing fees – and this issue is not going away.

Are small-dollar asks a good strategy?

Monday, 17 September 2012 09:56

When the Obama campaign announced in August that it would begin accepting text message contributions, the debate on small-dollar giving was off and running. Because if political campaigns can simultaneously engage grassroots supporters, identify voters, and raise funds through texts and online marketing, shouldn’t nonprofits use this strategy, too?


Probably not. And here’s why.

Avalon eFundraising Benchmarks - 2011

Tuesday, 26 June 2012 16:27

We know Avalon’s eFundraising programs are effective, but how do they stack up against industry benchmarks from M+R and Convio? We compared calendar year 2011 stats to the 2011 data from both benchmark studies. Not all of the sectors were an easy apples-to-apples comparison, but we can draw the following conclusions:


  • Overall, Avalon’s online fundraising is on a par with, or better than, industry averages.
  • Our open rates are particularly solid in the Arts and Animal Welfare sectors.
  • Avalon Advocacy metrics are ahead of M+R’s, but not Convio’s this time.
  • Response rates for Avalon clients are especially strong when compared to industry standards – these higher rates are mostly driven by our strong eRenewal series.
  • Average gifts are robust overall, especially in the Arts segment.
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