FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 10.27.20

Dear friends,

T-minus one week until Election Day. I know I don’t need to remind you to vote or make a plan to vote yourself, so here’s the level up: please encourage your staff in their plans to vote. The Society for Human Resource Management has a great round-up of ways employers can support turnout. Let’s do this!

Meanwhile, I am thrilled to share that we keep seeing strong performance for Avalon clients. Most recently, we recorded record revenue years for multiple clients whose fiscal years ended on September 30th – a truly inspiring achievement in such a challenging year. It wouldn’t be possible without our awesome clients, of course, but I also want to give a shout out to our rock star staff. Well done, everyone.

Avalon fundraisers have also been inspiring me lately with their commitment to learning. We have embraced a “culture of continuous improvement” in recent years, in which we encourage everyone both to prioritize professional development and to share learning with one another. October has been a busy month with lots of opportunities to put that commitment into action. Here are a few nuggets from our staff:

VP of Avalon Analytics TJ Hillinger reported back from the TNPA Affinity Data Webinar on the importance of asking for, collecting, and reflecting affinity data. Key lessons are to be transparent and to work affinity data into your organization’s “muscle memory,” so you can support strong donor relationships at every touchpoint. Presenters reported a correlation between performance and affinity segmentation, but causation needs to be validated through carefully designed tests.

Client Service VP Margot O’Leary attended DMFA’s “Reshape the Planned Giving Conversation,”  which confirmed that a majority of planned giving comes from audiences with ordinary financial means ­– a fact that underscores the importance of direct response. The webinar also dispelled the myth that COVID makes planned giving harder to talk about; in fact, the opposite appears to be true. If you need more motivation, here’s a compelling data point: we are beginning to witness the largest intergenerational wealth transfer in U.S. history, with $59 trillion to be transferred by 2061. Wow.

COO Kerri Kerr reported back from the DMAW event, “How to Create Killer Mailings,” which was full of helpful technical reminders like making sure you are allowed to use images, getting permission to tell stories, checking the resolution on photos, and not fearing tactics that work, even if they feel gimmicky (hello, labels!). It was a good affirmation of Avalon processes. We are on top of it.

Many of us (and you) attended the American Museum Membership Conference last week, which was full of sobering stats. While many museums have opened at limited capacity (all under 50%), they are reporting that visitation isn’t even reaching those limits. Kerri reported from one session that presenting museums don’t anticipate normal visitation before late 2022 or even 2023. This information resonates with recent NYT reporting on the trajectory for European museums.

Finally, I serve on the board of my high school alma mater, where we are working through a DEI process and managing the impact of COVID. Not only did I gain cross-discipline insight on these topics, which are in progress at Avalon too, but I also was reminded just how much both our institutions and most families are carrying right now.

On that note, I will wrap up my letter with this report on science-backed ways to find happiness, and, since one of the strategies is humor, here is the official LA Times power ranking of Halloween candy. I’m a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup girl myself.


Take care,