FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 02.02.21


Dear friends,

Hang on to your hats! Biden is methodically undoing Trump’s policies, and many of them affect issues we care deeply about. I was delighted to see orders expanding LGBTQ antidiscrimination protections and enabling transgender people to serve in the military, followed by several executive actions on equity and environmental justice. Add these to his work on climate change, immigration, and the pandemic, and things are really moving. I feel energized.

I am – and everyone at Avalon is – determined to capture this momentum in the work we do both for clients and internally. We have identified and are working on four DEI pillars: internal education, hiring and advancement, inclusive culture, and client work. This article from Stanford Social Innovation Review emphasizes that a robust DEI process is ongoing and should be integrated throughout an organization – a principle that I embrace for Avalon, and that we are eager to support with fundraising that walks the walk.

On a tactical level, we are strengthening our processes to discover and embrace ever more inclusive campaigns, including, for example, non-paternalistic framing, people-first language, and trauma-informed techniques. Kudos to Avalon client Bread for the City for pioneering the connection between trauma-informed care and trauma-informed fundraising years ago. This is a terrific example of a nonprofit connecting the equity dots across the entire organization.

This week marks the beginning of Black History Month, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture has planned an exciting calendar of programming. Events this week include a conversation with Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain, a discussion of prison reform and restorative justice, their weekly Joyful Fridays event for children, and a class on using probate records to research enslaved ancestors. You can also explore their collection online and follow @NMAAHC on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to experience their monthlong social media campaign, “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity.”

In other news, COO Kerri Kerr was recently featured in TNPA’s “2021 Forecast for Direct Response Fundraising,” a roundup of wisdom from industry leaders. She emphasized the importance of having a plan and being ready to adapt as political or other events unfold. She also offered some great questions to ask of your fundraising strategy, and I couldn’t agree more with her conclusion: “Our job in 2021 is to continue to engage [donors] in clear and compelling ways – and to be worthy of the trust they put in us.”

On a related note, Senior Vice President Jackie Biancolli Libby tackled post-2020 fundraising at AMMC, where she presented “Understanding Your File Makeup in the ‘New Normal’”, in partnership with Avalon clients Ambry Capistrano, Director of Membership at Monterey Bay Aquarium, Myles King, Director of Donor Communications, Stewardship, and Annual Fundraising at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Daniel Vincent, Director of Membership at The Trustees. The group presented a case study from each organization, which together highlight the significance of changes to file composition – along with how to assess both short- and long-term impacts, and how to respond strategically.

Finally, just when we thought we had seen the last Bernie jokes, the meme-fairy landed at the Avalon offices. Here is a fun NPR interview with Jen Ellis, who gifted Bernie the mittens in 2016. I love that a second-grade teacher has been the talk of the fashion world following such a high-profile event!


[Google street view photo of Avalon HQ with Bernie Sanders sitting in front, wearing mittens.]


Take care,