FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 03.29.2022

In today’s @AvalonConsultingGroup dispatch: client news, an update on paper supply, how to fundraise in 2022, and kindergarten pep talks (just add ice cream!).


Dear friends,

It was disheartening to watch the racism on display during Senate confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson. Cory Booker’s affirmation was a welcome reprieve from the vitriol, and I recommend reading Jackson’s statement, if you missed it. One thing that stands out is her love for the U.S., which abides even as she experiences inexcusable behavior in the Senate. As a working parent, I also appreciate this comment to her daughters:

I know it has not been easy as I have tried to navigate the challenges of juggling my career and motherhood. And I fully admit that I did not always get the balance right. But I hope that you have seen that with hard work, determination, and love, it can be done. I am so looking forward to seeing what each of you chooses to do with your amazing lives in this incredible country.

Meanwhile, Avalon clients are on a roll. Congratulations to Farm Sanctuary, who earned a Travel and Leisure 2022 Global Vision Award. The National Zoo honored National Panda Day on March 16. Society for Science (and Regeneron) announced the top ten winners in the Regeneron Science Talent Search. Yellowstone Forever is celebrating Yellowstone National Park’s 150th birthday. And, drumroll please…one client reported a $75,000 gift from their October acquisition campaign. Well done, everyone!

At the same time, our entire industry is dealing with limited paper supply. This has an impact on both costs and the materials available to mail. Most recently, we are hearing that label stock is extremely low. Our teams are working closely with production partners to secure the supply that is available and to recommend changes where appropriate. If it’s any comfort, we aren’t the only industry facing this challenge. Even election officials are feeling the strain.

Compounding these pressures is sensitivity to both inflation and world events. We expect to field more and more questions from leadership around the value of direct mail and whether to pause fundraising during the war. It is important that you, the fundraising expert in your organization, can answer them. Avalon is compiling resources to make this easier (ask your team for more info). The recent Agitator post on how to fundraise in 2022 is also helpful. I could not agree with this more:

In tough times the natural instinct is to pull back, conserve and not take chances. Wrong. Your job now, more than in normal times, is to weigh risk and weigh it carefully. What is the longer-term risk of not going forward with that acquisition campaign? What is the longer-term risk of eliminating a testing program? You may save immediate money that can make 2022’s bottom line better, but you’re probably digging a hole for 2023, 2024 and 2025. [Reproject your budget] and discuss the implications of all this with management.

On the digital side, last week was NTEN’s 22NTC conference. Many of our staff attended the virtual event and have reported great learning and new ideas. Kudos to senior VP Jackie Libby, Myles King from the Kennedy Center, and Daniel Vincent from the Trustees, who led a session on how to succeed in an evolving, post-COVID “new normal.” It was fantastic!

For an example of social media creativity, Avalon communications director Jake Koenigsberg shared an inventive campaign: the gender pay gap bot. This Twitter bot exposes brands that share empty platitudes about gender equality during Women’s History Month. It replies to those promotional tweets with the data on the gender pay gap for that company. Several companies have already deleted their tweets or pledged to address the disparities. Check it out on Twitter.

Finally, if you need a pep talk, call the Kindergarten Pep Talk Hotline. When I called, I was told “If you’re nervous, take out your wallet and go spend it on ice cream and shoes.” (It may have said juice, but I heard shoes.) For more good advice, the Wall Street Journal can tell you how to feel joy when the world seems bleak. One strategy they recommend is to schedule time with yourself for doing things you enjoy. I second that.

Take care,


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