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League of Women Voters

Making the Case for Acquisition Investment

The League hired Avalon to help turn around their struggling direct mail program. Our advice? Don’t neglect new donor acquisition. They made the investment—and reaped the rewards.

As anyone in direct marketing fundraising knows, acquiring new donors is an expensive proposition. It’s no surprise, then, that acquisition budgets are the first on the chopping block during financially challenging times.

This was the League of Women Voters’ dilemma at the end of the 1990s. For several years, the League’s renewal and appeal programs had fallen short of revenue goals. And the acquisition program was struggling to bring in new donors. The League reached out to Avalon for help rebuilding the fundraising momentum that had sustained the organization for more than 80 years.

Not surprisingly, the League’s board viewed new donor acquisition—with its negative net revenues—as a logical place to scale back. However, Avalon did the analysis and showed them a different story. Our projections indicated that increasing acquisition investment and implementing a more aggressive mail schedule could actually help the League rebuild its donor base and achieve positive returns within two years.

The League’s board and leadership gave us the go-ahead and the budget. Over the next 12 months, we implemented a series of list and package tests that helped the League home in on the most responsive prospects and establish an effective acquisition control package.

One year later, we had succeeded in tripling the League’s overall donor base—which has since paid off with consistent year-over-year revenue growth. Today, the League continues to prioritize new donor acquisition as a necessary—and ultimately productive—component of managing a healthy fundraising program.

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