FYI Blog

Avalon’s Sustainer Dashboard

It can be difficult to pinpoint your monthly giving program’s current active universe, as well as actionable metrics for sustainer giving. To address those questions, Avalon Analytics has created a new dashboard.

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July 26, 2018

Are Declined Credit Cards Shrinking Your Sustainer Program?

Are declined credit cards chipping away at your sustainer program? This recent trend may have to do with the Target data breach at the end of 2013 – because many banks are automatically issuing new credit and debit cards to customers whose accounts may have been compromised by the breach. And those customers don’t always remember to update automatic payments like their sustainer commitments.


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Unfortunately, the only declines you can anticipate are credit card expires, so you must have a system in place to follow up immediately. Even one month of a lapsed decline can mean a big deficit in your sustainer program. We recommend telephoning monthly donors whose cards have been declined, in order to update credit card numbers in your system as soon as possible. In addition, follow up with any donors you can’t reach by phone – send them a brief letter with a form to fill out and a stamped reply envelope. Assign a staff person to implement a monthly process for handling declined cards and anticipating expires.


Another option is to use a credit card processor with a recovery program. In short, the processor reaches out to credit card companies and automatically updates card numbers and expiration dates as needed. In this way, the organizations never miss a payment.

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April 21, 2014

The Known Knowns

Cross-channel strategies are ideal, but they do not always work. We all know that surveys are great engagement strategies in direct mail and that sustainer invitations work best on the phone… but is that the only place they will work? Avalon challenged those assumptions for the League of Women Voters and for the National Museum of the American Indian and here are the results.


OBJECTIVE: The League of Women Voters needed to revitalize its online acquisition program by finding a new way to engage and acquire new donors.


LWV efr FYI - april 2014STRATEGY and AUDIENCE: Knowing how successfully the League had used a direct mail survey appeal, Avalon created an online version of the National Opinion Survey and follow-up email. The emails were sent to the League’s E-Activists, lapsed donors, and Care2-acquired lists. We deployed the emails in two phases: the first wave activated potential donors through the League’s fundamental voter protection messaging and asked recipients to make their voices heard by taking the League’s National Opinion Survey. The survey was concise, with ten questions that solicited constituents’ opinions on critical voter-protection issues. Once the survey was completed, the recipient was redirected to a confirmation page containing a thank you message with a soft ask.


Phase two of the email went to all recipients of the National Opinion Survey email, except for those who gave to the soft ask after the survey. We crafted this second wave with compelling messaging that discussed the dire state of voting rights today. The text detailed the League’s incredible track record of defending those rights nationwide for almost a century at both the local grassroots and national levels. Recipients were directly asked to join with the League in the fight to keep elections accessible to all citizens.


RESULTS: The results were amazing—more than 4,563 recipients completed the survey and 202 joined the League. This resulted in $6.56 net revenue per donor instead of the expected investment per donor. These results exceeded all expectations, as well as the previous fiscal year’s e-acquisition campaign, with a 169% higher click-through rate, 697% more gifts, and a 116% higher average gift.

The results for our Wellspring Society direct mail invitation for the National Museum of the American Indian were also impressive:

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April 17, 2014