FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 10.25.2022

In this week’s @AvalonFYI dispatch: the brilliance of board service, being a good ally, benchmarks, creative inspiration, and more. Also, we’re hiring! Learn more here:

Dear friends,

Last week was full of work travel, including several client visits. Thank you to Fountain House, Guttmacher Institute, Habitat for Humanity NYC and Westchester County, and SAGE for your hospitality! It is inspiring and motivating to see your work up close. I am—and Avalon is—proud to support you.

I also attended board meetings at my high school, Stoneleigh-Burnham School in Greenfield, Massachusetts. Future Fundraising Now just highlighted how board service can sharpen a fundraiser’s skills, and I agree. I’ve learned so much about leadership and governance through board service, including the value of a strong partnership between fundraisers and other leaders. Most importantly, it’s a great way to make a difference.

For your DEI library, COO Kerri Kerr shared Vu Le’s advice for white allies going through existential crises during DEI work. He encourages allies to lean into this discomfort and to consider a variety of roles. Our best contribution may be to donate, take a support role, educate white colleagues, or be a transition force. There will also be times when it’s right to decline an opportunity:

On occasion, yes, do step back or stay home: It may hurt to realize, but sometimes you can do the most good in the struggle for a better society by not participating in certain things. Be thoughtful [about] where you [should] and shouldn’t be. Don’t join certain boards. Don’t take certain jobs. Don’t accept certain invitations to be on a panel, to give a keynote, to author an article, etc. Maybe recommend a colleague of color instead.

In Avalon news, we are hiring. Current openings include a digital program manager, fundraising program manager, production project manager, and senior program manager. If you know someone who would be a good fit, please forward them this email and suggest they reach out. Avalon was named a Washington Post 2022 Top Workplace, and we offer an incredible suite of benefits. Thank you for your help!

In benchmarks this week, the Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP) released its 2022 Q2 quarterly fundraising report. The big news is that donor counts are down by -7.0% overall vs. 2021. The decline is even more prominent in the under $500 categories, where $100-$500 donors are down by -8.0% and $0-$99 donors are down by -17.4%. On a more positive note, recaptured donors increased by +6.3%. Total donations also went up by +6.2%; however, the Chronicle of Philanthropy notes that revenue growth trails the inflation rate. The big story remains that 2021 was an outlier and these numbers reflect a settling after the pandemic high, but most orgs are still seeing gains over 2019 and 2020.

For an example of creative fundraising, the University of Tennessee launched a goalpost campaign after their football team’s exciting win over Alabama. While the campaign was active (it closed last week), ask levels were symbolic: “$16 – seasons since the Vols last beat Alabama,” “$52.49 – final score of the breathtaking game,” and “$1,019.15 – capacity of the sold-out Neyland Stadium.” Apologies to ‘Bama fans, but the campaign exceeded its goal.

For a fun fact, Avalon finance VP Kristina Deutsch gave our team a fascinating lesson on the history of the piggy bank. According to The Financial Brand, in medieval Europe it was customary to store money in an orange clay jar called a pygg pot. In the 19th century, as the English alphabet and language evolved, potters began shaping pygg pots into pig-shaped containers. However, Europeans weren’t the first: centuries earlier, terracotta pots shaped like pigs were used for similar purposes in Java, Indonesia. Who knew?!

Finally, if some of us seemed distracted last week, it’s because we were beyond excited that Taylor Swift released her newest album, Midnights. In case you’ve been under a rock, here’s what you are missing. Did you listen? #swiftiesunite

Take care,


Allison signature gray

Allison Porter headshot

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