FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 07.02.2024

Pop quiz: What percent of 501(c)(3)s operate on a July-June fiscal year? Find the answer in this week’s @AvalonFYI dispatch, along with benchmark news, advertising trends, election-year messaging, a conference discount, and more. Read it here!

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Dear friends,

Avalon will be closed on Thursday, July 4 and Friday, July 5 for Independence Day. Friday also marks the beginning of my sabbatical (July 5 – 27). I have scheduled regular check-ins to ensure continuity—and you will hear from Avalon leadership each Tuesday in the Avalon Dispatch. We will not send a dispatch next week, but these emails will resume on July 16. Avalon is in great hands!

In other news this week, Monday began a new fiscal year for many nonprofits. Here’s a fun fact: According to Candid, 22% of 501(c)(3)s (accounting for 45% of total assets) begin their fiscal year on July 1. If your nonprofit operates on a July-June fiscal year, I know it’s a busy time. Your Avalon teams are right beside you, and we’re excited for what this year has in store.

I was happy to see ROI Solutions’ announcement that they’ve stepped into the benchmarking space with their clients. ROI will partner with Contributor Development Partnership to provide collaborative benchmarking across public media and nonprofit organizations. This includes “sharing fundraising data, identifying and exploring broader fundraising challenges, and discussing solutions to ensure fundraising success in 2024 and beyond.” As we all know, benchmarking is desperately needed, and, with the absence of Blackbaud’s index, more sources collecting and sharing this kind of information can benefit the whole industry.

The marketing and advertising world was celebrating in Cannes, France last week, and The Wall Street Journal’s “5 Trends to Watch at Cannes Lions 2024” caught my eye. Advertising trends echo a lot of what we’re seeing at Avalon and across the sector: AI, the value of personalization, and the impact of inclusion on marketing. The article also emphasizes marketing’s role as a bridge between other functions of an organization like finance, IT, and user experience—something we all know well. The one area nonprofits are lagging in is the influencer impact, and that is a function of the high price and challenge of finding the right brand partners.

For strong messaging, marketing VP Barb Perell shared a smart post on issue-framing during an election. In “Beyond Soundbites,” The Communications Network stresses the importance of keeping the issues and your solutions in front of your audience. A mistake some organizations make is reacting to politicians’ narratives, when instead we need to be strategic. The article highlights three core practices:

  • Don’t fall into the political trap of framing everything as a crisis. Emphasize solutions. 
  • Advance the role systems play in causing and addressing social issues. Americans’ thinking tends to be highly individualistic, and political rhetoric only reinforces this – keep focused on the context of injustice and how systems can/need to change. 
  • Frame together. So many of us are trying to move in the direction of justice. If we want to get there, we need these solutions-oriented, systemically-framed messages to be on surround sound—and on repeat.

On a regulatory note, California’s new registration and filing rules are in effect—and it’s a huge concern, given the large number of donors in that state and its potential broader impact. Under this rule, nonprofits MUST be in “good standing” or fundraising platforms will prevent your organization from receiving online donations, not only from California donors but potentially from donors in any state. Perlman and Perlman issued guidance that I recommend for anyone with a national program. They advise nonprofits to confirm and monitor their good standing in three key databases: (1) CA Attorney General Registry, (2) CA Franchise Tax Board Entity Status, and (3) IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search. This is a good reminder that it’s essential to stay on top of registration renewals and compliance.

Looking ahead, I hope to see you in San Diego this September 9 – 12 for The Nonprofit Alliance Leadership Summit 2024. I serve on the steering committee, and I’m really looking forward to Van Lai-DuMone’s keynote on creativity and leadership. We have planned a fabulous event, and I can offer a $50 Committee Discount to nonprofit staff members who are registering. If you would like the code, please reply to this email or ask your Avalon team!

Finally, thank you again for your support and well wishes for my sabbatical. I am so proud that Avalon offers this benefit, and I’m excited to experience it for myself. If you need me, please contact Mollie Bensen or anyone on your Avalon team. They know how to reach me, and they are well prepared to hold down the fort. I’ll be back at work with renewed energy and fresh perspective on July 29, just in time for Bridge 2024! I look forward to seeing you there.

Take care,
Allison signature gray

Allison Porter headshot

Allison Porter, President
Avalon Consulting Group