FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 10.31.2023

Join us in celebrating LGBTQ+ icons—and Halloween, of course! It’s all in this week’s @AvalonFYI dispatch, along with an evolution in ROI, how to motivate major donors, a peek into the learning curve for new House Speakers, and more. Read it here:

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Dear friends,

Today is not only Halloween, but also the last day of LGBT History Month. Each year, organizers at Equality Forum celebrate 31 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender icons. 2023 icons include author Roxane Gay, WNBA star Brittney Griner, actor and comedian Leslie Jordan, and singer-songwriter Michael Stipe of REM. Today’s icon is Australian foreign minister Penny Wong, who is “the first openly lesbian woman to serve as an Australian federal parliamentarian and federal government cabinet minister.”

In other news, now that we have a new Speaker of the House, I am eager to see that chamber resume work. There are, of course, urgent issues, including the threat of government shutdown, two major international conflicts, and last week’s tragic shooting in Maine—all in addition to the regular business of leading the nation. I found Politico’s coverage of the steep learning curve for new Speakers especially interesting in light of these high stakes.

At Avalon, senior VP Mary Meredith and VP Bill Tucker recently attended the Drug Policy Alliance’s International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Phoenix. This conference occurs every two years and draws both experts and attendees from around the world—over 50 countries in 2023–who are committed to “finding alternatives to the war on drugs.” Mary and Bill reported back that the event was a whirlwind of knowledge, emotion, and inspiration, which is all so valuable for the Avalon team supporting this important work.

In addition, I mentioned last week that senior VP Jackie Libby and VP Dara Igersheim were speakers at the 2023 American Museum Membership Conference. They were part of a larger Avalon contingent that also included COO Kerri Kerr and VPs Lisa Caldwell, Will Griffiths, and Aly Wells. Marketing and operations manager Mollie Bensen also participated from across the country by organizing a terrific dinner for Avalon team members and our clients in attendance. Thank you, Mollie!

Closer to home, VP Rebecca Shapalis and senior program manager Kris Blanchette reported back from DMAW’s Multichannel Mini-Con. According to Rebecca, a major takeaway was an evolution in how the industry thinks about ROI. At the All-Star panel, speakers emphasized a shift away from single-channel ROI and a preference for multichannel audience ROI. This enables fundraisers to assess performance across marketing channels, for a more holistic view of how donors engage with an organization. In 2009, Avalon launched Avalon Analytics for exactly this reason—to build the deep expertise necessary to move beyond siloed metrics that limit strategy. We are excited to continue building on this insight.

Analytics VP Sarah Birnie shared a call to action from Jeff Brooks at Future Fundraising Now: Are Your Best Donors Getting Your Worst Fundraising? He observes that many organizations make assumptions about how to motivate major donors that aren’t aligned with reality. These assumptions lead them to neglect some of the best practices that first appealed to those donors and then motivated them to upgrade. For example, organizations often begin to use complex language instead of the straightforward language that is considered fundraising best practice. Sarah noted that they appreciate the advice to know what has worked for donors in the past and to build on (not depart from) those strategies: “In our Major Findings Analysis, we show exactly this.”

Finally, happy Halloween! I have loved following the Avalon Sweet Sixteen brackets, my new favorite October tradition. This year we covered not only candy, but also scary movies, not-so-scary movies, and favorite costumes. Here are this year’s winners (drumroll, please!): reigning champ Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups swept the candy competition with 77% of the popular vote; The Exorcist clinched the scary movie title; Ghostbusters slimed the competition in the not-so-scary movie category; and “witch” swooped away with top prize as Avalon’s costume of choice.

Take care,


Allison signature gray

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