FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 10.05.2021


Dear friends,

Yesterday, I shared some exciting news. Effective October 1, Avalon has acquired direct marketing agency Tripi Consulting. With this acquisition, Avalon will be almost 60 people representing over 45 nonprofits—including 11 Tripi clients who empower women, deliver critical health services, fight for justice, and advocate for LGBTQ individuals. I’m so grateful to Amy Tripi for entrusting us with her legacy, and to the Avalon senior management team for their support throughout this process. To Tripi’s incredible staff and clients, welcome to the Avalon family! I know we will do great things together.

Avalon has also updated aggregate client trends through August, and here’s what we see: Cumulatively, our clients are performing ahead of last year’s benchmarks, and the increase has been consistent across several months. To date this year, only May fell below 2020 performance. High dollar giving maintains a larger increase over 2020, compared to gifts below $1000. And digital maintains a larger increase, compared to direct mail. In addition, we see sectors with high COVID giving surges resettling as expected.

Mailers should know that supply chain factors are still a challenge. Shipping bottlenecks are causing friction, and wood pulp demand continues to soar. We are feeling the effects on envelopes and other stocks; however, labels are particularly delayed. Currently, lead time on labels is quite long (6 – 9 months), so proactive communication with production partners is essential. Your Avalon teams will continue to monitor this closely and plan ahead.

In postage news, ProList provided guidance on anticipated USPS rates. We won’t have an increase in January 2022, but we can expect to see rates rise twice per year beginning July 2022 through at least 2024. Avalon’s strategy for managing this remains consistent: budget for changes, limit first-class postage to high-value campaigns and segments, and follow the data.

Online, Twitter is rolling out changes. One set of updates will foster creative content, including new features like audio and newsletter platforms. A second focus is safer conversations, which they’re tackling with features that selectively limit replies and a Safety Mode (currently in beta) that automatically blocks accounts “using potentially harmful language—such as insults or hateful remarks—or sending repetitive and uninvited replies or mentions.”

Marketing VP Barb Perell recommended this interesting demographic article from the Wall Street Journal on age and altruism. Meta-analysis suggests that older Americans aren’t just altruistic because they have more disposable income; they’re actually more generous:

There seems to be something about getting older that just intrinsically makes us more generous. This may fit with another rather surprising discovery, which is that we also seem to get happier as we grow older, despite our creaky minds and bodies.

And COO Kerri Kerr shared this HBR article on staying motivated in uncertain times. The authors explain that the human brain perceives uncertainty as a state of threat, which signals the brain to “fight, freeze, or flight” and reduces its capacity for more complex thinking. The authors recommend three strategies to counteract the effect: realistic optimism, big-picture thinking, and candor.

Finally, a big congratulations to Yekatit Bezooayehu, regional program director at Maryland Food Bank. She just published her first book: My Precious Gift. It’s a children’s story, inspired by Yekatit’s experiences and Ethiopian heritage. And it’s an important read that inspires pride in the ethnic origins of people’s names.

Take care,


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