Last week was difficult, especially for those of us who love DC. I will never forget the chaotic images from the Capitol, which I never imagined possible, or the outrageously incongruent policing. At the same time, everyone on the side of progressive change has cause for celebration: Biden’s certification and Democrats’ Georgia Senate victories give us a real shot for addressing these issues.
I was incredibly moved by Avalon COO Kerri Kerr’s words to our staff following last Wednesday’s events, and I want to share them with you here. You will see why I am so grateful to lead Avalon with her. She wrote:
An untested democracy is not a democracy at all. You only have a true democracy when it is tested and prevails. And prevail we have, but not without damage. Trump’s tenure has revealed vulnerabilities that must be addressed. With control of the Presidency, House, and Senate, Democrats have an opportunity to repair this damage and build a stronger democracy for the next time it is tested by a tyrant. Let’s hold them accountable to doing so.
As fundraisers, we empower nonprofits and their donors to do exactly that.
For everyone tackling leadership resolutions, I can think of no better place to start than The Nonprofit Alliance’s newly launched Essential Leadership Lab. I attended the program’s launch last week, and it was fantastic. In 2021, they will offer three four-month learning cycles, beginning in January, May, and September. Each one will be a great opportunity to network, learn, and move your organization forward. The first cycle kicks off on January 27th and will focus on DEI accountability. It’s not too late to sign up!
As we dive into a new year of fundraising, let’s start with an assessment of year-end activities. It has been exciting to follow our clients’ very strong results, especially on the heels of a banner Giving Tuesday and some USPS delays. We are seeing consistent increases over 2019, with revenue lifts ranging from 10% – 60%. For more on this, here is a helpful recap of what worked well this year, written by Avalon’s senior director of digital services, Amy Vanpouille Padre. Once again, your donors inspire me.
Avalon is also following the 2020 Q3 analysis from AFP’s Fundraising Effectiveness Project, which largely validates Avalon’s real-time in-house findings. They report increases in overall donors and donations. First year retention is down, but multi-year retention is steady. Gifts under $250 were up a whopping 17%! $1000+ giving was also up, although at a more modest 6% – 7%.
In other good news, I am thrilled to announce that Avalon is expanding its in-house creative team. It has been so exciting to watch this department take off, and I’m incredibly proud of the team we have built. Our newest member is senior graphic designer Scott Cannon, whom many of you know and love from his freelance work. Scott brings a ton of experience from across the nonprofit sector, both through his independent practice and as art director of JAM Communications. He has partnered with Avalon on several MAXI award-winning campaigns, and many more that also deserved the honor. Welcome, Scott.
Finally, I mentioned last week that I am eager to return to our office when it is safe. Another hope I have for 2021 is that we can safely resume some travel – to visit our clients across the country and in Europe, to reconnect with colleagues at conferences, and to play with my family and friends. For a little taste of what we can look forward to, check out the amazing art in the beautiful new Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station in NYC. I can’t wait to see it in person!