FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 01.17.2023

In this week’s @AvalonFYI dispatch, you will find social justice photography, Mackenzie Scott’s giving strategy, creepy crawly fundraising, attention-grabbing TikToks, and more. Read it here!


Dear friends,

I hope each of you found meaningful ways to affirm the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the holiday weekend. Thank you to the National Museum of African American History and Culture for hosting The People’s Holiday and for sharing their inspiring “Why We March” video, which features 60 years of activist and protest photography from the museum’s permanent collection. It does a beautiful job honoring the long reach of King’s legacy:

A march carries calls for justice through messages that move from hearts that feel compassion to hands that take action, from voices on the ground to game changers and policy makers. The cycle continues moving from individuals and communities into the history and future of generations.

In philanthropy this week, NPR covered Mackenzie Scott’s Yield Giving strategy, which prioritizes equity through large and unrestricted gifts with minimal administrative burden. Scott has called this approach “seeding by ceding,” by which she means stepping back from the spotlight and transferring both wealth and decision-making to recipients. Last month, the Center for Effective Philanthropy published a study to assess the impact, with favorable findings. As one recipient reported:

It has emboldened us to be more strategic in fundraising by giving us a cushion to be more selective about restrictive grants. This will put us in a much stronger strategic position going forward as we will be able to focus on funding that is better aligned with our strategy.

This strikes a chord for direct response. We too understand that the ability to be strategic makes all the difference between fundraising that truly advances impact and fundraising that merely balances a budget. And we know how public misunderstanding around the cost of fundraising limits many nonprofits. What’s more, in direct response even the smallest gifts are impactful, and that supports our larger goals for equity and inclusion. I will be watching future research with interest.

In other news, congratulations to the National Symphony Orchestra on the appointment of its new executive director, Jean Davidson. Davidson has most recently been CEO of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and she has been lauded by both NSO and Kennedy Center leaders for her rare combination of strategic focus and creative vision. I look forward to seeing her leadership in action.

On a fun note, the Avalon team has been amused by an especially creative Valentine’s Day campaign at the San Antonio Zoo. The Cry Me a Cockroach campaign invites supporters to make a gift and name a cockroach, rodent, or vegetable (all food for zoo animals) after an ex or a “not so significant other.” It’s a takeoff of the Bronx Zoo’s longstanding and popular Name a Roach fundraiser. These campaigns combine the zoos’ mission and the satisfaction of giving with donors’ personal catharsis and a laugh! Well done to the first fundraisers who dreamed this up.

For social media inspiration, senior VP Margot O’Leary recommends following the Milwaukee Public Library on Instagram and TikTok. The library is gaining followers around the world with its engaging content, specifically library-themed videos with a quirky sense of humor. It’s easy to see why so many people love them.

Where do we get all the hot fundraising news? We follow fundraising news across the internet and industry. If you’d like to add new voices to your feed, Jeff Brooks of Future Fundraising Now just published a round-up of his top fundraising blogs for 2023. He also asked which other blogs he should follow, so please be sure to mention the Avalon Dispatch in your comments. Thank you!

Take care,


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Allison Porter, President
Avalon Consulting Group
202-429-6080 ext. 102