FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 08.22.2023

In this week’s @AvalonFYI dispatch, Allison Porter reflects on why fundraisers do what we do + arts education, a 101 on newsletters, learning from mistakes, fall routines, a call to action, and more. Read it here!

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Dear friends,

The early signs of fall are here. September campaigns are well on their way, of course, and many Avalon families are heading back to school. My older son Luca is returning to the College of Charleston for his senior year, and my younger son Alex is a freshman at the University of Maryland. It’s always a little sad to let go of summer, but I do enjoy getting back to a routine.

From my inbox, I was excited to receive the first issue of the Kennedy Center’s relaunched news magazine, CENTER. They have done a great job reimagining the publication for enhanced patron engagement. I particularly enjoyed their coverage of National Arts in Education Week, which will take place the week of September 10. Arts education is an important part of the Kennedy Center’s mission, and they offer incredible resources for educators.

Speaking of nonprofit news, Future Fundraising Now started a Newsletter Tuesdays series, for a helpful 101 on donor newsletters. Last week’s post outlined five categories of newsletter content: stories of transformation, photos, message from the president, donor profiles, and calls to action. My advice? The best content is the content that your audience responds to. Track key metrics, and test new ideas.

Around the industry, both DMAW and TNPA are tracking pending California privacy legislation that would limit data collection and storage in the state. The bill of concern is SB 362, which includes a “delete my information” option for consumers to remove their data from all registered data brokers. Last week, DMAW executive director Donna Tschiffely requested that DMAW members contact lawmakers and urge them to slow the process:

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) was enacted through a very slow, deliberative process including a ballot measure and several subsequent iterations in the legislature. This broker registration legislation, an enforcement companion to the CCPA, requires as much care and attention.

To support equity in our sector, Vu Le wrote a great article for his blog Nonprofit AF debunking criticism of equity-based fundraising as “romanticized.” The problem goes beyond financial practicalities, he argues, and impacts equity conversations about everything from board makeup to management structure to compensation to capacity-building. Le goes on to reclaim the word “romantic,” explain how our work fits the definition, and issue a call to action:

To do this work, we have to be romantic. We have to believe that people are generally good and worth being helped, and that the forces of good wins out in the end. And we have to be heroic. Despite an unending barrage of setbacks and challenges, we continue forward toward this vision of what our world could be. That’s heroic. We’re fighting Mordor and the Empire every day. Because of the very nature of this work and the personal values we hold that draw us to it, we are the most romantic people working in the most romantic field ever!

For your professional development, senior director of HR Melissa Ferrell shared a great article from Psychology Today about moving on from mistakes. It shares how elite athletes cultivate a mindset and habits for growth. While it’s a good thing to admit and take responsibility for mistakes, it is also important not to get stuck in self-criticism. Instead, acknowledge your frustration, finish “the play” strongly, focus on the next task, and forgive yourself. Through it all, remember that mistakes are part of learning, not something to fear. “We grow by taking risks and stretching ourselves.”

Finally, on a serious note, recent news reminds me why fundraisers do what we do. My heart is with the people of Lahaina, and I’m in awe of the community leaders, relief operations, and advocates springing into action. Meanwhile, in Georgia, Trump’s latest indictment reaffirmed the urgency of fair voting, a strong justice system, and stable democratic institutions. Nonprofits’ readiness to respond—and donors’ readiness to support them—are vital for all our wellbeing. Avalon is honored to work with you. Together, we make nonprofits strong.

Take care,


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