FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 08.09.2022

Democratic fundraising emails, Instagram videos, the first-ever direct mail catalog, free national parks days, and more—all in this week’s @AvalonFYI dispatch. Read it here!


Dear friends,

At the recommendation of some friends I stepped out of my day to day duties last week to join an incredible group of diverse leaders from multiple sectors at the SALA Series Leadership Conference in Martha’s Vineyard.

We discussed managing through change, stakeholder vs. shareholder accountability, and social justice issues like criminal justice reform and educational reform. These topics and more gave rise to lots of energy and good ideas throughout the week.

In particular, the advice of three basketball coaches really resonated with the former DIII athlete in me. Earl Grant (Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Boston College), Willie Green (Head Coach of the New Orleans Pelicans) and Carrie Moore (Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Harvard) talked about what it takes to build a winning team. Green shared his mantra of mindfulness, compassion, and joy. Grant shared his goal of focusing and engaging everyone on a team in a “tight huddle” mentality. The coaches also stressed that mental strength training is something all teams need, not just in the sports world. My team is now bracing for lots of sports clichés and team analogies. Huddle up and let’s find some joy, people!

If you haven’t seen it, the recent New York Times letter to the editor on Democratic fundraising strategy is a must-read. The authors criticize the trend of apocalyptic messaging and “churn and burn” fundraising. Instead, they advise Democrats to “tend the grassroots” for more organized and longer-term engagement. Nonprofits have mostly rejected this approach, because they take the long view on return on investment and have committed staff who can develop strategies, build relationships, and steward messaging across many years. And we are proud to support you!

Speaking of strategy, senior VP Margot O’Leary shared a good post from Future Fundraising Now on fundraising in this economy. It offers grounding principles that build on everything we learned from the 2008-2009 recession and the COVID years. I echo these four highlights:

1. Stay the course. (Mostly – unfortunately we need to proactively manage the impact of rising costs so we will have to make strategic adjustments as needed)

2. Make your case stronger than ever.

3. Many donors will not be affected.

4. The fundraising outlook is brighter than expected.

On social media, big-name influencers are frustrated with Instagram’s strategy to prioritize video content in its algorithm. In spite of the backlash, the company is moving forward. Further, we can expect that users will find more and more recommended content in their feeds. To benefit from this, marketers will need to keep pace with changes to the algorithm:

Today, about 15% of content in Facebook user’s feed and “a little more than that” on Instagram from people, groups or accounts that you don’t follow is algorithmically recommended, Zuckerberg said on the earnings call, adding that Meta expects those percentages “to more than double by the end of next year.”

For a bit of marketing history, during my trip to the U.K. last month I was able to see the first-ever direct mail catalog, sent in 1845 by Tiffany and Co. It was known as the Blue Book and is part of the Vision and Virtuosity exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London, which celebrates the company’s 185th anniversary. In addition to the catalog, the display includes some of their most famous pieces and was a fun way to celebrate Tiffany’s history.

An image of the Tiffany & Co. original 1845 catalog. a green book on a white backgroundThe original 1845 Blue Book.
Image courtesy Architectural Digest.

On the client side, marketing VP Barb Perell gave a rave review to Toy Story in Concert, which she saw with her family at the Wolf Trap’s Filene Center. The screening was a collaboration between two Avalon clients, Wolf Trap and the National Symphony Orchestra. Barb shared that her entire family loved the experience, and that Toy Story’s message of expecting and embracing change still resonates.

Also, last Thursday was a free entrance day at our national parks. In addition, a new year of the Every Kid Outdoors program—a free annual pass for fourth graders and their families—begins on September 1. But if you aren’t eligible, don’t worry: the next national parks free entrance day will take place on September 24. Whenever and wherever you go, the National Parks Conservation Association can help you take better park photos.

Finally, congratulations again to COO Kerri Kerr, who was named a Pursuant 40 Over Forty award winner! Everyone here is so grateful for all that Kerri contributes to Avalon, our clients, and the industry. I cannot imagine a better leader for Avalon or a more well-deserving recipient of this award. Cheers to Kerri!

Take care,


Allison signature gray

Allison Porter headshot

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