FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 04.18.2023

In this week’s @AvalonFYI dispatch, we cover Earth Day, 23NTC, digital trends, newsletters, the future of work, and more. Read it here!


Dear friends,

April is in full swing, with many colleagues across the industry taking spring vacations. My younger son Alex is a senior in high school, and the two of us traveled to London during his break. We had a lovely visit one evening with former client Phil Reed, recently retired from the American Air Museum in Britain, and enjoyed spending time with old friends. We also went to Malta, a remote Mediterranean island known for its extensive history. While there, we saw ancient ruins that date to 5000 BC (older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids) and medieval churches that are rare examples of baroque ornamentation and painting. Malta also played a pivotal role during WWII, when it was fiercely contested and bombed extensively by the Germans. We enjoyed touring with friends and loved the extraordinary, fresh seafood.

Allison and Alex, both wearing sunglasses and sweatshirts, stand in front of a harbor in Malta. The sky is clear and the water is very blue.Touring with my son Alex in Malta.

Turning to work, Avalon Digital was busy leveling up at 23NTC (NTEN’s conference) last week. The conference was designed as a hybrid model that included both in-person and online passes. So, Avalon sent a team in person to the Denver gathering, and a few others attended online. As you might expect, NTEN is leading the way in designing these experiences for a hybrid/remote workforce. I will keep you posted on insights as our staff reports back.

Speaking of digital, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP released a new study on digital advertising in the commercial sector. Citing it, The Wall Street Journal reports a +10.8% increase in digital ad revenue in 2022. This is good news in light of economic uncertainty, but growth has slowed since 2021 (+35%) and 2020 (+12%). Social media ad revenue chilled the most in 2022, growing only +3.6%, vs. +39% in 2021. This tracks with what we’re seeing in the nonprofit sector, where digital took huge leaps during the pandemic. That growth held, but the intensity has slowed to a more sustainable pace.

For mailers, senior VP Margot O’Leary shared advice from Jeff Brooks at Future Fundraising Now on successful donor newsletters. He takes on the question of how to calibrate the frequency, timing, length, and colors of newsletters so they work well for your donors. I like Brooks’ emphasis on testing to identify what he calls your donors’ “sweet spot.” Newsletter strategy is an important lever for mailing smart and managing the impact of rising direct mail costs.

For your reading lists, Stanford Social Innovation Review posted a collection of articles and case studies on the future of work, as homework for its Data on Purpose conference (May 2 – 3). This year’s theme is “Making Tech Work for Workers,” so the readings cover the digital economy, generative AI, opportunities for the social sector, and digital guardrails, to name a few. As we settle into remote work post-pandemic, it is so important that we use tech to lead the way for healthy and sustainable practices.

In nature news, this Saturday is Earth Day. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend learning about the Smithsonian’s “Life on a Sustainable Planet” initiative. They are bringing together the full range of their collections, programming, and scientific resources for a holistic response to climate change. The initiative was launched at COP27, the 2022 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. On Earth Day, through this initiative, the Smithsonian will launch their new Center for Environmental Justice at the Anacostia Community Museum.

Finally, did you catch The Washington Post’s round-up of safety tips from the comedians running the National Park Service social media? It’s hilarious. “Did you know that if you hold an ermine up to your ear, you can hear what it’s like to be attacked by an ermine?” Good to know!


Take care,


Allison signature gray

Allison Porter headshot

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