FYI Blog

DMAW AdVents Feature: “Your Second-Gift Rate Is Talking”

Avalon’s Vice President & Director of Analytical Services, TJ Hillinger recently shared retention insights in the March issue of DMAW‘s Marketing AdVents. Her article – “Your Second-Gift Rate is Talking – Are You Listening?” – analyzes second-gift rate as an indicator of loyalty and future retention. Read on to learn how the speed of a donor’s second gift correlates […]

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April 5, 2018

Case Study: Pivoting Post-Election

The League of Women Voters of the U.S. (LWV) needed to provide donors with a post-election update as quickly as possible after Election Day 2016—regardless of the election’s outcome. OBJECTIVE: The League of Women Voters (LWV) Education Fund’s objective was to be in the mail within days after Election Day, to brief supporters on the […]

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February 6, 2018

Avalon Clients Wins Gold & Bronze at the MAXI’s!

Avalon is pleased to announce that fundraising efforts on behalf of two clients, Friends of the Smithsonian (FoS) and the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), were honored with Bronze and Gold-level MAXI Awards, respectively, from the Direct Marketing Association of Washington (DMAW) at Bridge. 

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August 3, 2017

Avalon Wins Two MAXI Awards! And Meet Us at the Bridge!

maxi-2017 logo

Avalon is thrilled to announce that fundraising efforts on behalf of two clients, Friends of the Smithsonian (FoS) and the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), have won MAXI Awards from the Direct Marketing Association of Washington (DMAW).

The NMAAHC will be honored for its Three-envelope Appeal to Charter Members, which featured an innovative pay-in-installments strategy and compelling creative, resulting in blockbuster response and revenue. Friends of the Smithsonian will be honored for its hugely successful spring 2016 Telemarketing Appeal, in which Avalon used sophisticated donor modeling to pinpoint donors most likely to respond to telemarketing—producing 2.5 times the net revenue of the previous telemarketing effort.

Bridge 2017 Logo Banner

Image: Bridge Conference Facebook Page

We hope you’ll join Avalon at the DMAW’s annual Bridge Conference August 2-4 at the Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. The MAXI Awards Ceremony will take place on opening night. Check with Avalon in August via Twitter to learn what level of award these two campaigns won.

Echoing the Bridge Conference’s theme this year—You’ve got to think BIG, think BOLD, and take ACTION!—Avalon will present the following sessions with our client colleagues.

We hope to see you there!

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June 13, 2017

Case Study: Fresh Messaging for a Spectacular Result

RAN appeal Art collage

With a new approach to messaging and positioning, Avalon gave new life to the Rainforest Action Network’s appeal program.

Objective: Given the multitude of nonprofits working in the environmental sector, the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) needed a way to make its unique brand of activism stand out for donors. So Avalon sought to appeal to them with a fresh messaging approach and a strong case for support.

Strategy and Audience: Previous RAN appeals focused on the destructive environmental consequences of clear cutting rainforests—compelling, but missing the more human story. Our new messaging focused on the wildlife that is being impacted in the rush to produce cheap palm oil in the Leuser Ecosystem—the last place on earth where Sumatran tigers, orangutans, rhinos, and sun bears can still be found living together.

Our window carrier featured a photo of an adorable baby orangutan and its mother, with the teaser “Don’t let your snacks destroy their future…” The two-page letter from RAN Executive Director Lindsey Allen got right to the point—engaging donors with the stark truth about the devastation to the rainforest and the animals that live there that results from harvesting palm oil for our snack foods. We challenged RAN donors to do something about this situation, then provided two solutions: one, sign the enclosed petition to PepsiCo, a leading purchaser of “conflict” palm oil; and two, make a contribution to support RAN’s campaigns to end rainforest destruction.

The full-page reply form echoed the letter’s urgency and important message, and included a three-paragraph petition to PepsiCo outlining what’s at stake and imploring the company to do the right thing.

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February 1, 2017

Review and Refocus at Year End

Africare’s funding was stretched to the limit at the end of 2014, as the organization used available resources to help slow the Ebola epidemic in Western Africa. Heading into year end, Africare sought to shore up its revenue and prepare donors for the coming challenges of the new year. Objective: Avalon was tasked with providing […]

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October 30, 2015

Engaging New Donors at an Established Nonprofit

Nat Geo Case Study Pic for Website

In late 2013, the National Geographic Society called on Avalon to create an individual giving membership program to broaden and enhance its fundraising efforts. In response, we created the “Contributing Membership” program and launched a successful multi-channel Contributing Member acquisition campaign to begin acquiring philanthropic members.

OBJECTIVE: After the initial acquisition campaign, Avalon was tasked with finding strategies to further bond National Geographic’s inaugural Contributing Members to the organization, to keep them engaged and giving.

STRATEGY AND AUDIENCE: First and foremost, we needed to create a special appeal that would resonate with a file containing only new joins, to keep them interested and active. Capitalizing on the start of a new year, Avalon chose an Annual Fund strategy as a first attempt at additional giving engagement. The letter focused the case for giving on exploration, highlighting some of National Geographic’s most notable discoveries and expeditions as it seeks to further understand the world we all share. We described specific exploration projects—like Paul Salopek’s seven-year trek from Africa to Tierra del Fuego, featured in a recent National Geographic magazine—as examples of the Society’s invaluable work.

Unlike more typical appeal universes that span 24 months, our selects consisted solely of 0-6 month new joins from the October 2013 acquisition campaign—so our message had to be clear and concise. Corresponding art consisted of a window carrier with a “2014 Annual Fund” teaser in National Geographic’s signature yellow, a drop-cut letter/reply to minimize the high costs associated with such a small mailing quantity, and a BRE. We achieved our intended goal: a simple package with a clear and compelling case for support.

June 22, 2015

Testing to Add Punch to a Successful Campaign

NTHP Notecard Appeal

Sometimes a minor tweak to an existing appeal package can be the key to refreshing an institutional approach. Avalon’s reply card test in the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s (NTHP) March 2013 note card appeal proved to be an excellent example of this strategy.

OBJECTIVE: NTHP looked to Avalon to test ways to improve the performance of its annual note card appeal—specifically to increase the response rate and average gift while engaging the membership with this simple package.

STRATEGY: The note card control and test packages both included an elegant, highly personalized card featuring NTHP’s logo on the outside and compelling copy on the inside, with an individualized ask string, and Real-Pen-addressed outer envelope. The control package did not contain a reply card—instead, we included an ask in the body of the note, with a “handwritten” ask at the bottom. For the test package, we printed a matching reply card on 65-pound stock—heavier than a standard sheet of paper—to add perceived value to the package.

We mailed the note card appeal to all current (0-12 months) and recently lapsed (13-24 months) donors who had made a gift of between $20-$999.

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May 6, 2015

Case Study: Including $1,000+ Donors in an Urgent Appeal

jm-gray-background 170x170In early April 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the controversial McCutcheon decision, which essentially allows individuals to donate millions of dollars to candidates and political parties and corrupt our political system. The League of Women Voters needed to quickly inform its members of the ramifications of the decision and solicit urgent funds to take action in opposition to the decision.

Objective: Avalon worked with the League to add an unbudgeted, urgent appeal in response to the McCutcheon decision. Compelling copy and art were rapidly designed for a direct mail and e-appeal asking supporters to speak out against secret money in elections by standing with the League.

Strategy: With a torn-from-the-headlines message and real urgency, we decided to mail deeply into the League’s file, and include the $1,000+ Leaders for Democracy members in the appeal. An urgentgram format was used to streamline production, and within days of the decision, the high-dollar, first-class version of the package was in the mail, with the low-dollar version following shortly after. An emailed companion effort was sent to those members with email addresses, in advance of the mailing.

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January 28, 2015