FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 02.14.2023

Happy Valentine’s Day! In this week’s @AvalonFYI dispatch, you will find industry buzz, how to stand up for what you believe in, inspiring performances, and emails with a lot of heart. Get the scoop here:


Dear friends,

Avalon will be closed on Monday, February 20 for Presidents’ Day. It will be nice to pause for a long weekend after a busy month so far. It has also been a great month: My calendar is full of in-person meetings again, and I’m enjoying these synchronous collaborations. It has been fun to dig out my physical business cards and share Avalon’s superpowers IRL. 

Last week, our team held a kickoff meeting with a new client. Welcome to the Avalon community, Women’s World Banking! We’re thrilled to partner with you and to support your mission of “economic empowerment through financial inclusion to the one billion women in the world without access to formal financial services.” Count us in on this important work.

Thank you to all our clients for your wonderful Black History Month programming. One great example is the Kennedy Center’s incredible lineup. Last week, a highlight was the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and upcoming stages will feature a conversation series with Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter of The Roots (February 18), Igmar Thomas’ Revive Big Band (February 24), and the Blacks in Wax living history program (March 18). Online, I recommend the Celebrating Black History Month digital collection and Writing Worlds With Hope: A Conversation with Jacqueline Woodson.

Also this month, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum will host their 12th Annual Presidents’ Day Festival on February 20. Visitors in Boston can attend performances of President Kennedy’s campaign songs and register for special museum tours. For those who can’t be there in person, they will broadcast performances online. 

In industry buzz, The NonProfit Times covered the private equity consolidations that resulted in a wave of agency changes this winter. Long story short, it remains to be seen whether these changes will be good for nonprofits, but, certainly, there will be an impact. Meanwhile, I’m proud that Avalon remains an independently owned agency—and that we can focus on clients’ best interests without worrying about investors who may not understand fundraising. I thought Tom Harrison, former CEO at Russ Reid, described the challenge of consolidation well:

I think we’re all seeing that it’s just much more difficult to successfully manage and grow an agency than it looks. Leadership matters. Culture matters. Strategy matters. And given the important causes that agencies represent, the stakes are very high. When dissecting a failure, it’s fascinating how just a few bad decisions can lead to disaster.

For your leadership growth, senior VP Jackie Libby shared a great article from Fast Company on emotional toughness. Author Harvey Deutschendorf defines emotional toughness as “standing up for what we believe in and setting firm boundaries,” and he outlines 5 ways to boost this strength. As Jackie observed to the Avalon team, each of these strategies is both challenging and rewarding:

(1) Learn [whom] to trust.
(2) Expand your comfort zone.
(3) Practice self-discipline.
(4) Associate with positive people.
(5) Set goals, but don’t compare yourself to others.

In good news this week, especially for those of us horrified by book bans, the American Library Association’s 2023 youth media awards celebrated diverse stories and the arc of justice. Amina Luqman-Dawson’s Freewater, “a tale of escaped enslaved people,” won both the Newberry Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award. The Stonewall Awards, which honor books that relate to LGBTQ+ experiences, went to Charlotte Sullivan Wild’s Love, Violet and Sacha Lamb’s When the Angels Left the Old Country. (Thanks to marketing VP Barb Perell for this share.)

Finally, happy Valentine’s Day! I thought it would be fun to wrap with a roundup of Valentine marketing campaigns from Really Good Emails. File for inspiration next year! I hope that everyone reading has a great day with lots of heart.

Take care,


Allison signature gray

Allison Porter headshot

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