FYI Blog

Avalon’s Hosts Its First Annual Direct Response Fundraising 101

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On Thursday, August 7th, Avalon hosted its first annual, client-exclusive Direct Response Fundraising 101. With over ten client organizations in attendance, the seminar was full of conversation, strategy, and fresh ideas from the Avalon community.


Kerri Speaking

The day kicked off with networking and breakfast, during which clients were able to exchange ideas and thoughts with one another and their Avalon colleagues. A full day of informative sessions from Avalon’s senior staff followed:

    • Senior Vice President Kerri Kerr (pictured above) began with a talk on Direct Mail and Creative Strategy. At Avalon, this important step provides the seed to grow and culminate ideas for direct marketing campaigns. Kerri spoke to the importance of messaging and focus in the creative process, and she explained how clients should envision their different types of mailings.
    • Vice President and Director of Analytical Services T.J. Hillinger spoke with clients about Avalon’s state-of-the-art reporting and analytics, citing the importance of understanding and applying analytics in order to plan and execute successful fundraising programs.
    • Vice President of Online Services Barb Perell discussed Online Fundraising. Barb explained that, as technology continues to grow and evolve, the importance of integrating online fundraising with other channels remains essential to a program’s success. Additionally, Barb stressed the importance of maximizing lead generation to drive traffic, and she reminded clients that it is crucial to collect email addresses in different ways.
    • Account Director Jackie Biancolli (see first photo below) led a session on Telefundraising. Jackie described the ways in which a strong donor relationship can be built through phone calls, and she explained the benefits of tracking and changing campaign strategy in real time through this medium.
    • Senior Program Manager Rebecca Shapalis and Program Manager Lucy Quinn led participants through the step-by-step Production process that brings campaigns to life. The various colors you see on an envelope? Those are carefully chosen and attributed to certain packages through a variety of steps. As are all the folds, envelopes, and logos of a package!
    • Chief Strategy Officer Jenny Phillips (see second photo below) delivered a discussion on Industry Ethics. Jenny touched on many interesting areas, such as the Donor Bill of Rights, the importance of keeping ethics in mind throughout strategies and campaigns, and the ethical fundraising values of respect, honesty, transparency and effectiveness.
    • Vice President Jamie Natelson followed Jenny with a lively discussion on Testing Best Practices. At Avalon, new ideas are always being tried and measured in order to produce optimal results for clients. Jamie explored the tricky science of figuring out what works and what doesn’t by showing clients’ different packages and including a quiz to see if participants could pick testing winners. An important lesson: shiny and pretty doesn’t always win.
    • We closed the day with a special Happy Hour session on the Industry Outlook, led by President Allison Porter (see third photo below). Allison spoke to the importance of innovation and analysis in the industry, as exemplified by Avalon’s clients themselves!

Direct Response Fundraising 101 was a wonderful opportunity to share expertise with our clients and provide a behind-the-scenes look at how each area of our work connects to raise money and engage supporters in meaningful ways. We hope that every participant left the event with increased knowledge and enthusiasm for the art and science of direct response fundraising.

All of us at Avalon truly enjoyed the chance to spend the day with our clients and nurture our shared passion for the work we do together on behalf of so many important causes. We look forward to making this an annual event!

Jackie Speaking 2

Jenny Speaking 2

Allison speaking