FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 04.19.2022

In this week’s @AvalonConsultingGroup dispatch: gender-neutral passports, postage rates, a love letter to checklists, and the history of the matching gift. Read it here!


Dear friends,

It’s a busy month for celebrations, including several major religious holidays. Happy Easter, Passover, and Ramadan to all who observe. In addition, Earth Day and Administrative Professionals Day are just around the corner. And April 16 was Emancipation Day in Washington, DC, as well as the first day of National Park Week around the country. Shout out to our park clients Grand Canyon Conservancy, National Parks Conservation Association, and Yellowstone Forever!

Speaking of Earth Day, I love that this year’s theme is “Invest in our planet.” It both encourages action today and points to the future. This idea is important for the entire sector. Nonprofits work tirelessly to both address urgent needs and advance long-term systems change. Fundraisers can support this by thinking like investors. When we understand the risks and ROI that matter to organizations and movements, we can do more with our time and resources.

This April also marks an exciting milestone. Beginning April 11, gender-neutral passports are available to U.S. citizens. This is one of several commitments announced by the Biden-Harris administration for the Trans Day of Visibility (March 31). In addition to this change at the State Department, Homeland Security has adopted several inclusive measures. The White House also promises to back up federal protections for transgender youth, to provide federal resources, and to advance inclusion in federal data. Thank you to senior account director Sue Sena and senior VP Margot O’Leary for sharing and celebrating this announcement at Avalon.

In other news, the Postal Service announced rate increases that will go into effect on July 10, 2022. Pending approval, rates for letters will increase by 6.5% (average) for first-class mail, 6.2% (average) for marketing mail, and 4% for nonprofit marketing mail. Mail flats will increase by 8.5% overall, but nonprofit mail flats will see the largest increases: 12.2% for under 4 oz. and 30.9% for over 4 oz. To learn more, I recommend this analysis from The Nonprofit Alliance. You can also find rate sheets on the Production Solutions website.

Beyond the mail, COO Kerri Kerr recently shared the Ultimate 85-Point Marketer’s Checklist, by Denny Hatch. It’s a fantastic resource and a good review of best practices. We are huge proponents of checklists at Avalon and use proprietary lists for quality control on every campaign. For anyone who still needs convincing that checklists are awesome, here’s a fascinating article on how checklists transformed intensive care units.

If spell check is on your lists, here’s a shortcut from director of data operations and analytics Allison Forsberg: in PowerPoint, you can hit F7 to run spell check on the entire document. However, be forewarned that spell check is not the same as proofreading. Here are 9 common mistakes that spell check will not find.

Finally, I was delighted last week when marketing VP Barb Perell shared out the Decemberists’ version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Ben Franklin’s Song.” Barb also gave a lesson in fundraising history: Ben Franklin invented the matching gift in 1751. To raise funds for the nation’s first hospital, Pennsylvania Hospital, he proposed a public grant that would match private donations. Frankly (no pun intended), I consider this as important as electricity and bifocals!

Take care,


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