FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 09.27.2022

This week, we are celebrating: a big win for national parks, Hispanic Heritage Month, creative inspiration, the resurgence of direct mail, client traditions, and more. Read more here, in the @AvalonFYI dispatch!

Dear friends,

Welcome to autumn! I enjoy the change of seasons and especially the energy of fall. Though it can be stressful for marketers, it’s also exciting. Nonprofits have a tremendous opportunity to connect with donors, empower them, and set the stage for even more impact in the next year. This is how we make a difference and a big reason I love our profession. As Jeff Brooks wrote last year: “Fundraising is beautiful…because giving is beautiful.”

Speaking of impact, congratulations to the National Parks Conservation Association on a major victory. Congress passed a bill designating the Blackwell School as our newest national park site. The Blackwell National Historic Site in Marfa, Texas will honor the history of Mexican American students in the American Southwest, who endured school segregation until the mid-1900s. This is an important step towards including Latino stories at our parks: “Our national parks system must tell the full American story, which includes stories like the Blackwell School’s and beyond.” Hear, hear.

The announcement is well timed with Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed September 15 – October 15. The Smithsonian has some great resources, including these Top 8 Reasons Why and How We Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and, of course, their museums. The National Museum of the American Latino was established by Congress in December 2020 and is currently in planning. For those of you in DC, the Molina Family Latino Gallery at the National Museum of American History is open daily.

In Avalon news, SVP and director of digital innovation Mary Meredith and digital account director David Lothamer attended NextAfter’s Nonprofit Innovation and Optimization Summit (NIO) last week. NIO gathers nonprofit marketers and fundraisers to learn what’s working in online fundraising today, what the future may hold, and how to innovate in digital effectively. This conference is known not only for its content, but also for its playful experience. I’m a little jealous!

Mary and David smile and stand in front of the conference sign, which reads "NIO Summit and the Wizard of Optimization"Mary Meredith and David Lothamer at the NIO Summit in Kansas City.

On the mail side, AdWeek is talking about the resurgence of direct mail and why it’s no surprise. Here’s an encouraging data point:

After the lockdowns in 2020, people spent 36 seconds longer looking at their mail during the week and 7 minutes and 12 seconds longer on the weekends.

Fundraisers are way ahead of commercial marketers on this one, but it’s nice to see the validation. It is also helpful to understand how the business sector is using mail—not as a standalone tactic, but as an integrated touchpoint in an omnichannel strategy. This finding speaks to the potential:

Not only is direct mail engagement trending up, you could argue that the intent built into a single offline-to-online engagement carries 10 times the value of a single online click.

On a creative note, last week I attended various performances at the Annapolis Songwriters Festival. It was fun to hear the stories behind some of the songs that are huge hits in country and folk music. One thing that stood out is how often inspiration strikes in mundane moments. It reminded me of fundraising creative, and how many times a casual comment can spark the perfect hook—and you realize, “That’s it!” At the end of the day, songwriting jams aren’t that different from our brainstorming sessions.

Finally, it is such a joy to see client traditions resume. This Halloween, Boo at the Zoo is back at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo! The event takes place October 28-30 and is geared towards families with children ages 4 – 12. Tickets include after-hours animal viewing, a souvenir treat bag, a dance party, and trick-or-treating around the Zoo. And one bonus: there’s a good chance you may run into some Avalon families while you’re there. 😉

Take care,


Allison signature gray

Allison Porter headshot

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