FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 03.28.2023

It’s March Madness at Avalon! Check out our bracket leaderboard + MacKenzie Scott’s open call, an app for data collection, fundraiser retention, how to reduce eye strain, and a star-studded client event. Read it here: 


Dear friends,

This week, the Avalon team is in DC for 3 days of camaraderie and collaboration. We spent the day yesterday seeing the last of the Cherry Blossoms and touring at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and today we’re holding department and team meetings. I’m so grateful for this opportunity to connect in person. When we gather, I feel very aware of how special each person on our team is—and how we come together as a powerful group. It is such an honor to lead this agency. It’s also a lot of fun, so watch out, DC!

Next up, thank you to analytics VP Sarah Birnie for amplifying MacKenzie Scott’s “open call.” Scott’s organization, Yield Giving, will make 250 unrestricted $1 million donations in early 2024. To be eligible, your nonprofit must have an annual operating budget between $1 and $5 million and register interest before May 5, 2023. Then, your application will be due before June 12. The structure of this process reflects Scott’s philosophy on transferring both wealth and decision-making to communities:

Teams on the front lines of challenges have insights no one else can offer. So there are three big headlines here in my heart: Community changemakers can nominate themselves. Community changemakers get feedback from their peers. Community changemakers have a powerful role in funding decisions.

Blackbaud was in the news last week for a settlement with the SEC, related to their 2020 donor data breach. At issue is a disclosure gap that affected stockholders and which the company claims was necessary to mitigate impact. Legal issues in other countries and class-action lawsuits are also in progress. Beyond the explicit data security and legal problems this incident created, Blackbaud contributed to a loss of donor confidence in the industry’s ability to provide the transparency and clear communications they deserve.

Speaking of data, senior VP Jackie Libby flagged a new business model that pays users for access to their online activity. Founder John Roa describes it as “ethically sourced, first-party data.” The app, called Caden, just launched. I’m excited to see how consumers respond and how commercial marketers approach the ROI. If the app takes off, we can use that information to assess how it may help nonprofits.

On the management side, NonProfit Pro covered fundraiser retention, which is currently a sector-wide challenge. I love that one of their four strategies to counteract job stress is to encourage donor-centric fundraising. We know this approach is best for both donors and nonprofits, so I love hearing it also helps the fundraisers connecting them. It’s a win-win-win.

In client news, the Kennedy Center was star-studded last week for its annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. This year’s honoree, Adam Sandler, was toasted and sometimes roasted by celebrity friends like Drew Barrymore, Conan O’Brien, Chris Rock, Jennifer Aniston, Steve Buscemi, Dana Carvey, and Luis Guzmán. What a great group! The event was live at the Kennedy Center on March 19, it was televised on March 26 by CNN, and you can stream highlights on the Kennedy Center’s YouTube channel.

For your wellness, analytics VP Sarah Birnie circulated a simple tip for eye care. To reduce the strain of staring at screens, follow the 20-20-20 rule. This means spending 20 seconds every 20 minutes staring at something 20 feet away. This practice gives your eyes enough of a break to blink, remoisten, and fully relax.

Finally, yes, it’s March Madness. The Avalon team has been debating the merits of Barack Obama’s brackets, and our Virtual Gatherings Committee organized its fourth annual bracket competition. Here are the standings as we begin the Final Four: the men’s bracket is set and no one can earn any more points, so congrats to Sarah Birnie, Caroline Arnold, Linda Travis, Will Griffiths, and Jackie Libby for their top five finishes. In the women’s bracket, Jackie’s fingers are crossed that Virginia Tech wins on Friday, which would put her one step closer to winning it all. Sarah and Linda have their money on South Carolina, while Ali Forsberg hopes Iowa makes it to the championship. Avalon winners will receive prizes and bragging rights. Good luck, everyone!


Take care,


Allison signature gray

Allison Porter headshot

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