FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 11.01.2021

Updates from Avalon Analytics + ROI, Halloween candy winners, networking, and inclusive business language—all in this week’s dispatch!


Dear friends,

Election Day is here again. This year’s contests are haunted by Trump’s ridiculous claims of fraud, and some races are particularly fraught (Virginia, I’m looking at you). However, I always get a boost from seeing our most vital democratic tradition in action—and this year is no exception. Avalon will be closed tomorrow, November 2nd, so our staff can volunteer and vote. Let’s do this.

In other Avalon news, our DEI Task Force continues to evaluate every angle of our work through the lens of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. To that end, they recommended a change to the name of Avalon’s “Master File Analysis” report, or the MFA for short. Effective with the next round of reports, the Avalon MFA will be called the “Major Findings Analysis.” You can learn more about this and other business language recommendations at the Inclusive Naming Project.

In addition, Avalon Analytics® just released a new version of our Sustainer Dashboard. Sustainers are essential to a healthy fundraising program, and this tool is designed to help you make the most of them. It includes top-level stats, comparisons to non-sustainers, multiple retention views, and long-term value metrics—all in a user-friendly interface that includes Avalon’s expert interpretation. Email me or your Avalon team to learn more.

sustainer dashboard
Avalon’s enhanced Sustainer Dashboard

Jeff Brooks at Future Fundraising Now also has performance metrics on the brain. In a recent post, he explained the difference between Return on Investment (ROI) and Cost Per Dollar Raised (CPDR). Both measure efficiency, but CPDR is only a snapshot in time. ROI tells a bigger story about where your organization is going and how you can improve. Stewarding costs will always be important, but it’s a tactic that needs a strategy. This is a key concept for fundraisers to understand, so you can ensure the long-term health of your donor file.

Meanwhile, the supply chain is still a mess. There has been some great reporting on the problem, like CNN’s time-lapse visualization of container ship gridlock. However, this is a serious challenge for our industry, especially when coupled with widespread labor shortages. Avalon’s strategy is two-pronged: be proactive and be agile. It is imperative that nonprofits expand schedules, hit deadlines, and plan ahead. Otherwise, you risk high costs and missed mail dates. Your Avalon teams are working hard to ensure ample lead time for every campaign. Where there are factors beyond our control, we’re prepared to respond quickly and strategically.

On a fun note, last week’s happy hour was DMAW’s first in-person event since COVID began. To help us ease in, Marketing VP Barb Perell shared some networking tips from HBR. This strategy is especially fun: pretend to be a video game character who earns points by talking to new people. And it worked! Our staff who attended had a great time. Thanks to DMAW for hosting this event.

Finally, I know you’ve been on the edge of your seat for results from the Avalon Sweet Sixteen Halloween Candy Bracket. I am happy to announce that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups dominated yet again in the championship round. (In a surprising turn of events, Skittles took second place.) According to The Cut’s candy rankings, Avalon’s findings are accurate: “Reese’s are and will always be the champions of Halloween candy. Long may they reign.”

Take care,


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