FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 09.21.2021

Dear friends,

Last week Avalon SVP Jackie Libby and I attended the Kennedy Center’s 50th anniversary concert. It was a great night for the Kennedy Center; the program represented the best of their diverse programming, and we had a fabulous time. The event began with Native American song, ended with Hip Hop, and featured Jazz, Folk, and TikTok musical theater in between. It was also very moving to celebrate in-person again at a client event. I look forward to marking milestones with many more of you in the months ahead.


Yes, that’s Dr. Jill Biden at the Kennedy Center’s 50th Anniversary event

In fundraising news, Apple just released iOS 15, which includes the rollout of Mail Privacy Protection. This feature allows users to block tracking of email metrics like who, when, and where opens happen via Apple Mail. This will affect the accuracy of open rates for all email marketers. While opens are not our most important fundraising metric, Avalon’s digital team is monitoring impact carefully. We will assess open rate metrics with a critical eye and evaluate any processes driven by email opens or location. 

Direct mailers should know that paper shortages continue to impact production and prices. The story hit national news recently, including a segment on the Today Show. We continue to manage this at Avalon with smart production timelines and, wherever possible, flexible copy. Another important strategy is to stay ahead of deadlines, so we can protect our place in line with the printers. Avalon is on it! 

On the design side, I enjoyed perusing Shutterstock’s 2021 Color Trends report. To create it, they analyzed image downloads for HEX code data in each pixel. They highlight the top color for 20 countries, along with three standout hues: Set Sail Champagne, Fortuna Gold, and Tidewater Green. What a lovely merging of art and data. 

Speaking of data, you may have seen my recent email on the power of Avalon dashboards. I’m so proud of our analytics team for their work on this game-changing tool. Our signature dashboard—Avalon VitalStats™—now has channel breakdowns, allowing you to dive deeper into your data. We can also offer additional reporting around key metrics and file composition related to age and other demographic variables.

On a strategic note, I appreciated this thoughtful exploration of nonprofit risk and innovation in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. In it, National Geographic Fellow and founder of Internet for Elephants Gautam Shah wrote of climate urgency and the need for conservation nonprofits to assess what they are “willing to risk for the planet.” I see these principles applying to nonprofits broadly—and I particularly like his “back of the napkin risk framework.” Shah proposes that nonprofits assess opportunities across six risk categories: financial, branding/credibility, jobs/livelihoods, partnerships, ecological, and cultural.
Finally, I love these highlights from the London National History Museum’s competition for Wildlife Photographer of the Year. (Although, I’m still recovering from the tarantula on the refrigerator!) If you’re inspired to head outdoors, this roundup of hikes in the DC area pairs nicely with the 2021 Fall Foliage prediction map.

Take care,


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