FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 03.14.2023

In today’s @AvalonFYI dispatch, you’ll find good advice on donor complaints, a thought-provoking history of clip art, Women’s History Month, how to make the most of your weekends, and contemporary art that inspires. Read it here!


Dear friends,

March is Women’s History Month, and, as I’m sure you know, last Wednesday was International Women’s Day. I have been thrilled to see Avalon clients highlight their commitment to women and girls through advocacy, services, education, and more. Thank you for this work!

For example, USA for UNFPA estimates that 214,000 people need access to maternal health services in the wake of devastating earthquakes in Syria and Türkiye. UNFPA, “the lead UN agency on sexual and reproductive health and rights,” is there on the ground. They are providing mobile healthcare, setting up field clinics, and distributing dignity kits for personal care. Our client USA for UNFPA helps make that possible through awareness building and fundraising in the United States.

Here in DC, VP Dara Igersheim recommended the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Simmons Talk on portraiture, African American women, and social justice. Led by Dr. Deborah Willis, the talk will feature artists Amy Sherald and Bisa Butler. Dara has excellent taste, and this event has sold out—but do take a look at their incredible work: Willis is a scholar, photographer, and director of NYU’s Center for Black Visual Culture, Sherald painted Michelle Obama for the National Portrait Gallery, and Butler is renowned for her stunning quilted portraits.

In industry news, Future Fundraising Now took on donor complaints—specifically, how overreacting to them can undermine good strategy. While we never want to be cavalier about complaints, it’s also important to keep them in perspective. One complaint does not necessarily mean a mountain of unspoken frustration. If you need help explaining this concept in your organization, I like this approach:

If complainers speak for other non-complainers, shouldn’t we assume that donors speak for nondonors? That each person who goes to the trouble of giving represents people who felt moved by our message, who agreed with what we said … but just didn’t get around to making the gift? …In my experience (and probably yours), the ratio of donors to complainers is typically hundreds or even thousands to one.

On a design note, Senior VP Jackie Libby educated Avalon on the history of clip art. To me, this is another reminder that art and copy have tremendous influence on inclusivity. Clip art was an early accessibility tool that made visual cues available and easy-to-use for the masses. However, it also reinforced some harmful stereotypes, such as gender-coded roles and occupations. As the author points out, we should keep this complexity in mind when we evaluate AI tools like DALL-E and ChatGPT.

Finally, marketing VP Barb Perell shared some great advice for wellbeing. According to The Washington Post, UCLA researchers have found that treating each weekend like a vacation can increase happiness. Even in small doses, a vacation mindset can improve mindfulness and help us enjoy the moment. However, experts caution that we also need true vacations, and I wholeheartedly agree! If you haven’t planned your next week off, today’s a great day to get started.


Take care,


Allison signature gray

Allison Porter headshot

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