Check out this week’s @AvalonConsultingGroup dispatch for our 2022 outlook and a few fundraising resolutions. There’s no better place than here to begin the new year!
Happy new year! I hope that everyone enjoyed the December holidays in whatever ways they needed. For me this year, that meant some rest, some fun, and a little adventure. I had an extraordinary trip to Europe with my boys and managed to avoid Omicron but know so many people did not.
Allison and her sons, Alex and Luca.
This year, even as we weather the Omicron surge, we are moving out of pandemic fundraising and into an economy that still needs to recover. To begin 2022, I want to offer my perspective on what this means for nonprofits, for our industry, and for Avalon.
First and foremost, your missions and your donors remain essential—and fundraising is the bridge that connects them. Avalon’s focus this and every year is on the strategies that will strengthen those connections. Our center of gravity, as always, is YOU. I truly believe that this is how we make our mark on the world, together.
We aren’t finished with uncertainty yet. Experts seem to agree that we are mid-transition from pandemic to endemic, but we don’t know how long that will take or exactly what it will look like. In addition, economic and political challenges persist. Meeting this uncertainty with creativity, resilience, and good humor headlines my list of resolutions.
At top of mind for many are inflation and costs. From labor to paper to supply chain to postage, costs are rising, and we expect the trend to continue. In addition, many of you have the happy problem of more new donors in recent years–which means more servicing, higher campaign volume, and larger bottom-line expense.
Because of this, there may be pressures to cut. As fundraisers, we know that sweeping cuts can destroy a program. A better way embraces the complexity of managing both today’s budget and your program’s long-term health. (For a high-profile cautionary tale, recall the American Cancer Society’s failed experiment in cutting direct mail acquisition.) We must be responsive, creative, and adaptable as these challenges arise.
Communicating strategy is therefore a core skill for today’s fundraisers. First, we must regularly share information up, so leaders and boards are fully informed and ready to support strategic fundraising. Second, your nonprofit must share with donors—what it is doing, why, and how donors can contribute. We must also continue to address confusion and misplaced good intentions around overhead. At every turn, transparency and trust are critical.
Here’s the good news: we have the tools we need to succeed. First, an omnichannel approach invites dynamic strategies that speak to your donors wherever they are, to motivate giving and engagement across channels. Second, at the campaign level, we know how to maximize performance and minimize costs. Third, data analytics validates, informs, and enhances strategies and campaigns alike. Together, they create a flywheel to leverage your fundraising efforts and dollars.
Further, in every aspect of our work, we must progress towards Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. As I see it, DE&I are imperative for every organization and every campaign, every day. At Avalon, this means continuous improvement in four areas: training and education, hiring, culture, and client work. Please join me in leading these values throughout our industry and the nonprofit sector. I would love to hear how your organizations will prioritize DEI in the year ahead, and how you hope to see Avalon do the same.
Most of all, we can do this. We endured tremendous challenges during recent years, and we’re emerging with new clarity around mission, messaging, engagement, and even how we work together. We gained experience dealing with uncertainty and macroeconomic factors that are beyond our control. And we strengthened the partnerships that will help us succeed—with each other, within our organizations, across the industry, and, most importantly, with donors.
I am so proud and excited to work with you this year. I know we will do great things!
P.S. I am sure many of you have seen Amanda Gorman’s new poem in celebration of the new year. Her poem and video on Instagram really resonated with me and I leave it with you here today as you start the new year.
New Day’s Lyric
May this be the day
We come together.
Mourning, we come to mend,
Withered, we come to weather,
Torn, we come to tend,
Battered, we come to better.
Tethered by this year of yearning,
We are learning
That though we weren’t ready for this,
We have been readied by it.
We steadily vow that no matter
How we are weighed down,
We must always pave a way forward.
This hope is our door, our portal.
Even if we never get back to normal,
Someday we can venture beyond it,
To leave the known and take the first steps.
So let us not return to what was normal,
But reach toward what is next.
What was cursed, we will cure.
What was plagued, we will prove pure.
Where we tend to argue, we will try to agree,
Those fortunes we forswore, now the future we foresee,
Where we weren’t aware, we’re now awake;
Those moments we missed
Are now these moments we make,
The moments we meet,
And our hearts, once all together beaten,
Now all together beat.
Come, look up with kindness yet,
For even solace can be sourced from sorrow.
We remember, not just for the sake of yesterday,
But to take on tomorrow.
We heed this old spirit,
In a new day’s lyric,
In our hearts, we hear it:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
Be bold, sang Time this year,
Be bold, sang Time,
For when you honor yesterday,
Tomorrow ye will find.
Know what we’ve fought
Need not be forgot nor for none.
It defines us, binds us as one,
Come over, join this day just begun.
For wherever we come together,
We will forever overcome.