FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 05.02.2023

In this week’s @AvalonFYI digest, you’ll find trend analysis from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, how to choose photographs for campaigns, industry events, an NTC23 reading list, and a client tribute to artist and activist Harry Belafonte. Read it here!


Dear friends,

Welcome to May. Not only is summer in our sights, but last week’s announcement from President Biden brought the 2024 election cycle into view. Congratulations to trailblazer Julia Chávez Rodriguez, whom Biden has named campaign manager. Rodriguez is the granddaughter of labor activist César Chávez and the first Latina to run the re-election campaign of a sitting president.

In other news, rest in peace to Harry Belafonte. The National Museum of African American History and Culture has an incredible digital collection that honors Belafonte’s work, including both his artistic contributions and his activism. In addition, VP Dara Igersheim highlighted last week’s NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour on Belafonte’s legacy, and senior director of HR Melissa Ferrell shared this memorable performance with The Muppets.

In the nonprofit sector last week, the Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP) released a sobering 2022 Q4 report. FEP has been tracking a trend since 2012, in which donations continued to grow even as the number of donors declined. In 2022, that trend shifted, with donations leveling off through Q3 and then retracting in Q4. Specifically, they report a -10% decrease in donors and a -1.7% decrease in donations in the fourth quarter. One bright spot is revenue from recaptured donors, which increased by 3.8%. COO Kerri Kerr recommends this analysis from The Chronicle of Philanthropy, which helps to explain the shift.

At the campaign level, Future Fundraising Now published a two-part series on how to choose photographs for fundraising. In Part One, author Jeff Brooks argues that fundraisers should move beyond simplistic happy-or-sad art decisions, in favor of more complex considerations. Part Two outlines four steps for choosing photos that represent your nonprofit’s message well:

  1. Be sure about the story you want to tell…
  2. Look at the photo with as open a mind as possible…
  3. Get someone who knows less to look at it. Don’t ask them whether they like or dislike photo. Ask them to tell you what story they think they see…
  4. Look closely at the whole photo, at both the focal points and background, the overall impression.

For your professional development, the Direct Marketing Association of Washington will host a learning event tomorrow: Coffee Talk: Donor Advised Funds. Karin Kirchoff of K2D Strategies will lead a discussion and share K2D’s secret shopper study on DAFs. This in-person event will take place at The Nature Conservancy in Arlington. DMAW will also host List Bazaar 2023 on May 11 at the National Union Building in DC.

If reading is more your style, NTEN curated an incredible booklist that features titles authored by NTC23 speakers and attendees. I was happy to see a strong emphasis on equity and was particularly intrigued by NTC23 keynote speaker Safiya Umoja Noble’s Algorithms of Oppression, which explores how search engines reinforce racial biases. If you have read any books on this list, I would love your recommendations.

Finally, on a fun note, Thursday is Star Wars Day. Superfan and senior director of HR Melissa Ferrell has already won the day at Avalon by sharing this hilarious web series: Imperial Human Resources. May the fourth be with you!


Take care,


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