FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 05.31.2022

In today’s @AvalonFYI dispatch, a message from Allison Porter on recent tragedies + List Bazaar, literacy rates, and how to communicate with radical candor.


Dear friends,

The news out of Texas has been devastating, particularly on the heels of mass, racist violence in Buffalo. Thank you to everyone reading who works on gun violence prevention and other policies that address this horrific problem. Thank you to everyone who volunteers, donates, speaks out, organizes, and votes. Thank you to everyone who will not give up.

Many of us have needed a pause, to process the latest tragedy and to hug the children in our lives a little closer. Others have wanted to keep working—which, in our industry, has the added benefit of supporting a better world. A wide range of reactions is typical. Avalon has been encouraging staff to take advantage of employee assistance, PTO, and other benefits that can aid resilience. Let’s do our best to support each other.

For those who feel like working, I have a few updates:

First, VP Lisa Caldwell reported back from List Bazaar. Well done to Jamie Natelson of Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) for her keynote. She emphasized the ongoing importance of direct mail in an increasingly omnichannel world. It’s important, she said, to reach people through different channels and let them decide how they would like to respond. We agree! And it was great to hear the message reinforced. Not only is HSUS an Avalon Analytics client, but Jamie is a former Avalon VP—so we are doubly proud.

In addition to the keynote, Lisa emphasized the value of complied lists, the complexity of data privacy regulations (currently a patchwork of state rules), and the impact of print timelines on list strategy. Direct mailers should know that tight print deadlines require quick merges, which leaves less time to refresh data. Avalon has advised our teams to begin list planning earlier, to help ensure time for list and merge partners to refresh data and recommend new strategies.

Related, if you haven’t read the Names in the News Acquisition Advisor, it’s worth a look. The report provides a complete review of 2021 acquisition, along with some ideas of what to expect through the end of 2022. They have added new economic charts on inflation and consumer confidence, along with some interesting context for the mid-term election.

On the creative side, communications director Jake Koenigsberg shared an update on American literacy. A whopping 54% of Americans ages 16-74 read below the equivalent of a sixth-grade level. That translates to 130 million people, with an estimated cost of $2.2. trillion to the U.S. economy. Not only are these numbers shocking, but they speak to the importance of simple, accessible fundraising copy.

Inside Avalon, we hosted a series of trainings on Radical Candor, led by executive coach Jenny Phillips. Originally developed by Kim Scott (formerly of Google), Radical Candor is a communications framework for direct feedback and careful listening. The big idea is to both challenge directly and care personally when you are giving another person feedback. It is also important to listen well when it’s your turn to receive.

Finally, on a happy note, it’s graduation season. I couldn’t tell you what either of my graduation speakers had to say, but I’ve been enjoying the advice to graduates from Allyson Felix, Adam Sandler, Taylor Swift, and Abby Wambach. Congratulations to everyone in the Avalon community who is celebrating a milestone!

Take care,


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