Happy New Year from @AvalonFYI! It’s our tradition to kick off the year by outlining major strategic factors that president Allison Porter sees shaping our industry, our work, and our impact. Read it here!
Happy New Year! I hope that everyone enjoyed the holidays. Ours was delightfully low key and I appreciated being able to spend time with our family and extended time with my boys.
Every January, I feel a rush of excitement for the year ahead. It has become my tradition to kick off the year by outlining major factors I see shaping our industry, our work, and our impact. Here are four strategic themes that I’m tracking for Avalon and our clients:
(1) The only constant is change.
The past few years have been a crash course in how to maneuver uncertainty and change. Though I don’t have a crystal ball, I do respect the ongoing nature of change itself. And change, even good change, can be stressful. We must continue to take care of ourselves and each other.
This year, I’m encouraging the Avalon team and you to feel confident that, whatever comes, we know how to do this. Even when the unthinkable happens, as it did in 2020, we have purpose, we have good data, we have the skills we need, and we have one another.
In fact, most of us in the nonprofit sector are in the business of change! We see suffering, a need, or an injustice—and we respond with action. We discover ways to expand impact, update assumptions, or shift to more inclusive methods—and we lean in. We’ve got this.
(2) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work must continue.
Avalon’s DEI task force will prioritize choice points in 2023. We all make choices all the time, and Avalon wants to “peer into the matrix,” become more aware of what informs our choices, and align those choices with DEI goals that are important to us and our clients.
Specifically, this means we will train staff in how to recognize choice points and how to have informed conversations about them. Second, we will work to understand each client’s DEI goals in more depth. Third, we will innovate, test, and develop reports for DEI-informed techniques, such as adjusting the reading level of our materials, working to engage more impacted communities in outreach, or testing urgency in an appeal.
In addition, we will invest our time. I’ve joined DMAW’s Educational Foundation and will co-chair its DEI committee. COO Kerri Kerr will continue her work with the ADRFCO Council Advisory Board, Kristen Shank-Finn serves as VP of the DMFA Board of Directors, and VP Dara Igersheim has joined TNPA’s Leading EDGE Steering Committee.
(3) Cost increases are real, and nonprofits leaders must understand the impact.
In 2023, inflation will continue to present tough choices. Leaders must assess ROI and cost management through an updated lens: Where are things changing, what decisions are necessary, and how will you forecast their impact?
The good news is that fundraisers have increasingly sophisticated tools to inform those decisions. Strategy is advancing by leaps, as new technology emerges and nonprofits apply insights from 9/11, the 2008-2009 recession, and now COVID. Each of those events had its own lessons, but the big takeaway is that nonprofits succeed by leaning on past data while integrating new findings, real-time.
Avalon is ready to help you do exactly that, so you can lead the way inside your organizations. Together, we will find answers, educate key stakeholders and leaders, advocate for the correct level of investment, and ensure that cost-cutting is done with a scalpel, not a machete.
(4) Nonprofits need strong and reliable partners in times of change.
In periods of change, great partners help nonprofits maintain their balance. My goal for Avalon is to be a source of stability and a steadfast strategic partner for every nonprofit we serve, especially as the sector faces broad challenges and change—and opportunity!
Our deep bench at senior levels is key to this and a true asset for our clients. We, and by extension our clients, are also bolstered by Avalon’s strong partnerships with other industry experts, from production firms to list brokers to niche digital providers. Experience matters, particularly in times of volatility.
These themes will figure prominently in the year ahead, and I’m certain they will evolve as we move forward and the world changes. As Avalon SVP Jackie Libby wrote for The NonProfit Times last year:
Exactly! We understand the assignment. Let’s do this.