FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 08.31.2021


Dear friends,

The transition to fall has been a busy time, with continued COVID uncertainty. Good luck to everyone navigating back-to-school and return-to-office plans! As guidelines continue to evolve, I’m leaning on these strategies for leading through uncertainty. On a positive note, I was heartened by the FDA’s Pfizer approval, which unlocked several employer mandates and, I hope, will help persuade the vaccine hesitant.

I am also excited about last week’s launch of an ambitious initiative from the Smithsonian to emphasize the role of its museums in stewarding a national conversation around race. Our Shared Future: Reckoning With Our Racial Past will be a multiyear project that incorporates the Smithsonian’s broad range of resources, expertise, and collections. I can’t wait to see how it takes shape.

Last week also marked Women’s Equality Day. Avalon marketing VP Barb Perell shared this 1922 prediction from ERA author Alice Paul with our staff: “Women will be real equals in 2023.” It is edifying to think of how far we’ve come—and galvanizing to reflect on the work ahead. It is especially important that we make this vision inclusive for all women.

Here at Avalon, we held a mindfulness training for our staff, led by coach and longtime Avalon partner Jenny Phillips. I thought it was wonderful and, for me, something so important that I need to work hard and deliberately to try to incorporate in my busy life! I love the message of try, fail, try again. It accepts periodic failure, and the attempt is part of the process.

In industry news, I appreciated this trend report from Production Management Group. It covers postage, mail delivery, and the supply chain. Unfortunately, paper is not the only price that is rising—ink, polybag substrate, fuel, and freight are also having an impact. Advance planning and budget flexibility remain important. Your Avalon teams are ready for this.

You may remember my recent message on media criticism of the ASPCA—and Steve Nadizzi’s call to action for everyone in the industry to set the record straight. Charity Defense Council has also broken down the case, including a donor advisory that concludes, “CBS gets failing grades from us for fairness, literacy about how nonprofits work and succeed, and for its total disregard for ASPCA’s published results and impact. Viewers should not rely on the CBS story to make any judgments about ASPCA.”

Messaging pros will celebrate this share from Avalon senior VP Margot O’Leary: a case study from Delta Air Lines on the importance of the word YOU. Jeff Brooks at Future Fundraising Now explains that YOU isn’t a “magic talisman,” but it’s a sign that your copy does a good job of “enter[ing] the world of the donor.” Good fundraising makes it easy for donors to see how they can make a difference.

Speaking of impact, one thing that really helps is a functional laptop! If you’ve ever spilled a beverage on yours, you know the sick feeling that follows—and, often, the expense. The New York Times has some advice on how to avoid a replacement if this happens to you. The key is to act fast, so read up now and be prepared.

Finally, it’s true: we’ve entered pumpkin season. NPR reports that August 24th was Starbucks’s earliest ever rollout of its famous Pumpkin Spice Latte—and they aren’t the only company in full seasonal mode. Of course, fundraisers have been planning fall campaigns since early summer, so this comes as no surprise to us.

Senior VP Jackie Libby wins the Avalon prize for most dedicated Pumpkin Spice Latte fan. Cheers, Jackie!
Take care,


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