FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 09.13.2022

In this week’s @AvalonFYI dispatch, you will find a 9/11 reflection from Allison Porter, a State of the Industry Town Hall, a Mastercard update, 13 good habits for direct response fundraising leaders, and more.


Dear friends,

I spent a lot of time last weekend thinking about the events of 9/11 and my own experiences. At the time, I was living on Capitol Hill and was just a few months pregnant with my older son. The 6 of us who worked for Avalon walked from our offices at 20th and K to my co-founder Ann Herzog‘s house on 13th Street to spend the day watching the news and waiting, frustrated that we couldn’t get home because the whole city had shut down and there were ongoing reports of threats. As many of you know, the subsequent days in DC were surreal, with armed military on many street corners and fighter jets frequently making passes overhead.

My father was a history teacher, and public affairs, politics, and history were a part of every dinner table conversation when I was growing up. My mother and father often talked about where they were and what happened in the days that followed JFK‘s assassination. 9/11 is the same for my generation. And the pandemic will be remembered in a similar way. These are all giant moments in history that we will share with future generations, as we continue to struggle with grief and remember the people we lost and the more innocent times that existed just before.

Turning to the future, COO Kerri Kerr, senior VP and director of client services Jackie Biancolli Libby, and I are hosting a State of the Industry Town Hall on September 19 for Avalon clients. We will discuss what we have learned from past elections, economic downturns, and other influential moments in fundraising history. In addition, we will talk about the impact of rising costs and supply chain delays—and how to prepare for uncertain times ahead. This special seminar will take place on September 19 at 4pm EDT via Zoom and is for Avalon clients only. I hope you can join us and will report back with a summary.

Also on the agenda this fall is continuing Avalon’s DEI work. Most recently, we welcomed Shilpa Alimchandani of Mookti Consulting for a workshop on bias and subtle acts of exclusion. In addition to clarifying key terms, she shared examples and led a discussion on the harm these actions cause. Here is a resource to help you learn more about subtle acts of exclusion and how to respond. Thank you to Avalon’s DEI task force, to senior director of HR Melissa Ferrell, and most of all to Shilpa for coordinating and leading this important training.

Meanwhile, our friends at The Nonprofit Alliance (TNPA) met with Mastercard executives and report good news on recurring payments: First, Mastercard postponed the effective date for nonprofit requirements to March 21, 2023. Second, recurring notification will only be required for donors with email addresses—saving nonprofits the burden of additional postage. Thank you to the 215 nonprofits who signed TNPA’s letter on this issue. Your voice is making a difference.

In leadership news, I enjoyed this NonProfit Times roundup of 13 habits of direct response fundraising leaders. One thing that stands out is the importance of setting ego aside and embracing a growth mindset. We are fortunate to belong to a profession that prioritizes learning and improvement—from colleagues, donors, researchers, experts, and, of course, careful testing. As Avalon COO Kerri Kerr likes to say, “I love this job because every day is different, and every day is interesting.” Hear, hear.

Finally, are we having fun yet? If you’ve forgotten how, here’s an illustrated reminder from Wendy MacNaughton at The New York Times. “Kids have fun all the time. But we achievement-oriented adults are out of practice. We just need to tap into what we did when we were little.”

Take care,


Allison signature gray

Allison Porter headshot

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