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Avalon staff who attended the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) in Washington last week reported that, as usual, the conference didn’t disappoint. New ideas and trends, networking, and collaboration were the order of the day. We had the opportunity to visit with old friends and colleagues, and share with and learn from new ones.

Avalon’s session, All Hands on Deck: Managing a Rapid Response Campaign, was well received, with lots of great questions and discussion. Check out the slides below for some of the insights from our presenters (and Avalon clients): Sylvia Moskovitz (Farm Sanctuary), Sarah Stallings (National Geographic Society), Jack Mumby (Common Cause), and Avalon Vice President Anne Senft.

All Hands on Deck! Managing a Rapid Response Campaign from Avalon Consulting

We’ve put together some key takeaways from the conference:

Good Reminders and Tips:

  • In terms of general housekeeping:
    • It’s worth sending a follow-up email with an “every cent counts” message to people who abandon donation forms. Open rates are good for these emails, and although you might recapture only 25% of these would-be donors, that’s a decent bang for the buck.
    • Same with chase emails—if a recurring donation fails (e.g., the donor’s credit card has expired), ask these sustainers to sign up again. And ask only for a monthly gift—don’t offer a one-time-gift option.
  • Donor appreciation is always a hot topic, and some lessons bear repeating:
    • Thank-you emails should be an ongoing part of your donor retention strategy.
    • Consider beefing up your automatic thank-you messages. In addition to sending an auto-response after receiving the donor’s gift, also send a thank-you series similar to the welcome series you likely already have running, and on the anniversary of a first gift.
  • Segmentation: One nonprofit created an email segment for their direct mail file for an existing year-end appeal, highlighting the soon-to-arrive direct mail in an online banner with a visual of the mail piece. Another organization followed up on the direct mail via email, with instructions on how to fulfill through the mail, or donate online instead. All worth testing.

On the Industry Radar Screen:

  • Sustainer strategies were a big part of the NTC buzz, with many ideas on how to best engage these MVPs. A couple of examples:
    • Some organizations have introduced emergency appeals with a sustainer push as the only ask. They’re finding they can sign up sustainers more easily when donors are engaged by an urgent call to action. And why dilute the sustainer ask with a one-time-gift option?
    • On that note, current events tend to be more engaging than planned sustainer drives. The key is to tie the emergency to the mission, to pull in donors at a time when they can see why their long-term monthly support is so critical.
  • Infographics are everywhere and can be an incredibly compelling way to get your message across. But make sure you don’t sacrifice clarity for simplicity. Let your message drive the visuals.
  • While we’re all eagerly awaiting the April release of the 2017 M + R Benchmark Study, M + R teased a few facts and figures:
    • There was a 14% increase in online revenue since 2015.
    • The average online fundraising response rate stands at 0.05%, with Advocacy groups seeing an average response of 1.6%.
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