FYI Blog

DMAW AdVents Feature: Testing Informed Delivery

Of all the shiny, new things in the world of direct marketing, the United States Postal Service’s Informed Delivery is one that shows real promise as a new way to make your mail stand out in the crowd.      

Read More
February 18, 2020

Hot off the Presses…

Avalon President Allison Porter and writer Faith Brown Kerr have authored a chapter in the brand-new book: Sustainable Revenue for Museums: A Guide, edited by Samantha Chmelik. Dedicated to “…the volunteers, staff, and board members at museums, historic sites, zoos, aquaria, botanical gardens, and nature parks,” the guide presents a survey of the best practices being […]

Read More
October 25, 2019

Fasten Your Seatbelts…

Let’s face it: we’re in for another roller coaster year. We know that. What we don’t know is what the high and low points will be; what will trigger or suppress giving; what the political landscape will look like in a year—or tomorrow. As an industry, we need to collaborate more than ever, sharing strategies […]

Read More
January 31, 2018
October 4, 2017

Avalon’s Top 20 Best Practices

With Avalon hitting the 20-year mark, we’re reflecting on the tried-and-true fundraising and business best practices that have contributed to our success, some intuitive, some learned the hard way.

Read More
July 6, 2017

20 Staff Summer Industry Reads

As you may have heard, Avalon is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year! We consider ourselves an open book when it comes to our company culture in the direct marketing industry. But as we kick off our anniversary festivities, we wanted to share 20 Things You Don’t Know About Avalon so you can get to know us even better.

Read More
June 30, 2017

Case Study: Match vs. Challenge: Can You Guess the Winner?

 NPCA Matching Gift vs Challenge Collage v2

Challenge: At a time when many direct marketing fundraisers are looking for the next silver bullet, Avalon is constantly challenging ourselves to find ways to reliably boost appeal revenue and response for our clients. Recently, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) sought a way to ramp up an appeal without breaking the bank. We decided to test a tried-and-true strategy to show that sometimes the best approach is to re-use a tactic that’s been successful year after year.

Strategy: For NPCA’s spring 2016 appeal, we conducted a head-to-head test of a matching gift vs. a challenge gift.

For the match, the letter explained that “A generous group of NPCA supporters has offered to match contributions to our work, up to a total of $150,000.” We showed donors the math—how a gift of $50 would grow to $100, a $75 gift would become $150, etc.—and added urgency with a request to respond within 10 days.

For the challenge version, the letter read “A leading group of NPCA supporters has challenged us to raise the ambitious sum of $150,000 to invest in our work,” thus encouraging donors to “rise to the challenge” within 10 days—the classic thermometer approach.

Results: The results were tremendous—and very clear. The matching gift version raised 67% more revenue than the challenge, with a 57% higher response rate. These results echoed the success we’ve had with matching gift appeals for other Avalon clients.

While raising the funds for a match can be a challenge in itself, the promise of doubling the donor’s gift makes a tangible difference in response and revenue. Even though a matching gift strategy has been used for years, it remains a dependable means of engaging donors and improving results.

Read More
July 20, 2016

Dispelling Myths: “Our Packages Should Be More Interesting”

slider-Busted v2

We’re back with another post in our series on punching holes in long-held direct marketing fundraising myths. One thing is clear: when searching for what really works for our clients’ programs, an analytical approach always puts us on the path to success.

Of course, every direct marketing program is different, which is why we continuously test.

This month’s myth is the often-heard: Our Packages Should Be More Interesting. Perhaps more than any other direct marketing myth, this one really speaks to the conflict between a gut feeling and hard data.

Many see a flashy, full-color envelope alongside a white envelope, and immediately assume the flashy color package will perform better. But the data-driven truth is that popular and visually pleasing images, photos, color, gloss, and inserts do not always lead to better direct mail performance.
More often than you would expect, the plain package is more successful—reminding us to always analyze the data to gauge performance, rather than rely on what pleases our eye. And don’t forget—while visually interesting–more colorful packages with bells and whistles are always more expensive.

To put some hard numbers to our assertions:

  • In one test, when Avalon isolated variables like envelope design to prove or disprove productivity, we found that the simpler carrier reliably generated 43% more revenue per thousand mailed.
  • We also tried printing four-color images on carriers, thinking that an eye-catching photo would lift response. But in another test, the black and white carrier generated 28% more revenue per thousand mailed.
    Read More
July 1, 2016

Are Premiums Right for Your Organization?

Are premiums right for your organization? Avalon President Allison Porter gets to the crux of this debate in her article in the June issue of DMAW Advents.

She reports on her conversations with three industry professionals, as well as her own experience, in finding ways to include mission-specific premiums in a marketing program.

From testing to analytics to donor value to premium selection, this article covers the benefits and pitfalls of premium use in the real world.

Read More
June 30, 2016