FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 02.20.2024

This week’s @AvalonFYI dispatch, you will find gratitude, Black trailblazers, advice on the donor journey, donor advised funds, industry events, and more. Read it here!

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Dear friends,

As I’m sure you know, Valentine’s Day ended on a sad note last Wednesday, with gun violence at a Super Bowl parade in Kansas City. February 14 also marked the 6-year anniversary of the Parkland shooting. My heart goes out to the Kansas City community and to victims and survivors everywhere. Thank you to those who work so passionately to end gun violence—and to the fundraisers and donors who ensure their efforts will be funded until the problem is solved.

This week, Avalon will host a State of the Industry Town Hall Meeting for clients. The event is open to all clients and will take place on Thursday, February 22 at 1pm EST, via Zoom. COO Kerri Kerr and I will take your questions and will speak on industry factors impacting fundraising, what you can do, and how Avalon is supporting you. If for any reason you did not receive an invitation, please reach out to your Avalon team. I look forward to seeing many of you there!

For Black History Month, I have been “visiting” our museum clients’ digital collections, and this week I loved the National Air and Space Museum’s “African Americans Take Flight.” Their collection includes stories of air and space trailblazers like Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman to earn a pilot’s license. Coleman’s tenacity in pursuing training abroad when U.S. instructors would not teach her and her lifetime of “barnstorming through barriers” are so inspiring.

VP of analytics Sarah Birnie recommended Anti-Racism Daily’s Black History Month email series, 28 Days of Black History. Every day this month, they will highlight “an untold or unappreciated story…centering on queer, trans, disabled, and marginalized individuals.” In honor of National Black Girl Magic Day, Sarah also pointed out their feature on Gloria Gaynor, who wrote the disco anthem “I Will Survive” after a life-changing spinal cord injury:

So, in a wheelchair and back brace, she recorded the A-Side and then the B-Side, a song called “I Will Survive.” Impressed by its lyrics, she said the record label was “stupid” for burying this track on the B-Side. After a test run at Studio 54, the executives agreed—and “I Will Survive” became the featured track. Released in 1978, the song is a testament to strength, pride, independence, and overcoming self-doubt—one that resonated most with Black and LGBTQ+ audiences. The song cemented itself as a gay anthem, meeting the moment of gay liberation and the AIDS epidemic.

In fundraising news, NonProfit Pro reported on the growth of Fidelity Charitable. In 2023, the donor-advised fund (DAF) distributed $11.8 billion—a number that quadrupled over 10 years and increased by half a billion last year. Three stats from their 2023 Giving Report grabbed my attention: First, 77% of grants went to nonprofits that were previously supported, which I interpret as a good indicator of donor trust and stability. Second, 63% of grants were non-designated, allowing those recipients the flexibility of using funds “where needed most.” And third, 81% of grants included donor names and addresses, to support acknowledgment and future engagement. Exciting stuff!

For your professional development, Senior VP Margot O’Leary noted that the Direct Marketing Fundraisers Association will present a webinar on “Creating a Cohesive Donor Journey.” The free online event will take place on Thursday, February 29 at 2:00 PM EST and will cover strategies for messaging, segmentation, and personalization that enhance and cohere the donor journey.

Finally, a warm thought: Spring is coming! Yesterday marked the end of winter holidays on the federal calendar, and now we wait for Memorial Day. It’s a long stretch, so consider scheduling some time off in March or April. If you need inspiration, Travel + Leisure has a great collection of weekend getaways, and their destination of the year for 2024 is Costa Rica.

Take care,
Allison signature gray

Allison Porter headshot

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