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Blogs by Kerri Kerr

Making Democracy Work…For All at the League of Women Voters’ Convention


kerrik-newAvalon was proud to be a sponsor of the League of Women Voters’ National Convention earlier this month: Making Democracy Work…For All.

In this particularly volatile political environment, the League of Women Voters stands out as a hugely effective, nonpartisan champion of informed and active participation in government. And it was quite an honor for me to attend the convention and see its 800 leaders put those principles into action.

Making Democracy Work…For All was a wonderful mix of grassroots organizing, networking, leadership training, and in-depth discussion about priority issues—all carrying forward the League’s 96-year history of fighting to improve our government and engage all citizens in the decisions that impact their lives.

Arising from the movement to secure the right to vote for women, the League remains dedicated to expanding participation and giving a voice to all Americans. With the rise of dark money in politics, restrictive voter ID laws, and other tactics designed to disenfranchise voters, Avalon is pleased to play a small role by standing with the League as it works to ensure that all Americans have a voice in our democracy.

If you’d like to learn more about the League’s vital work and how you can get involved, visit the League’s website.

Big Ideas From AMMC

 AMMC 16 Chicago image

At this year’s American Museum Membership Conference, we had the opportunity to participate in a fun and incredibly informative general session: Big Ideas for Museum and Membership Fundraising.

The ideas presented in this rapid-fire panel discussion ranged from game-changing innovations for fundraising programs, to testing strategies, to partnerships, etc. Here are some of the big ideas Avalon staffers shared that have had a significant impact on our clients’ success:


  • Launch a Membership Month to engage current and prospective members. It’s a proven winner time and time again.
  • Join a co-op and use co-op overlays on large lists (commercial, buyers, or nonprofits/museums). This is an effective way to make an unproductive list productive.
  • If your ask string is in ascending order, switch the first and second ask. We recently tested this with a client and found a 20% increase in average gift — with no impact on response.
  • Add a “Reply by [date]” or “Respond within 10 days” teaser to acquisition and additional gift carriers or reply envelopes. Urgency always helps lift response.
  • Use a plain white carrier to improve response and lower costs for acquisition and additional gift mailings.

Additional Gifts:

  • Add $1,000+ members/donors to your direct mail and email fundraising efforts. The majority came from the direct marketing program and will continue to be responsive to direct marketing efforts.
  • Use matching gifts! Those of us in the business may tire of them, but donors never do! They lift response rates every time.

New Channels:

  • Use crowd-funding for designated asks. One of our performing arts clients just ran a very successful crowd-funding campaign to raise money to buy 1,000 schoolchildren tickets to a performance.
  • Our analysis shows that one sustainer is about three times more valuable than a regular donor. So focus on sustainer conversion via email, phone, and direct mail