FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 11.14.2023

Find the latest on consumer confidence, global giving, endowments, AI, overcoming negativity, and more—all in this week’s @AvalonFYI dispatch. Read it here!

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Dear friends,

Thank you to everyone who volunteered, voted, and worked polls on Election Day. And a big high five to voters in Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Virginia! It was refreshing to experience an upbeat night of election returns, and I’m hopeful Democrats have landed on a message that connects. Let’s enjoy the moment.

I was also thrilled for our clients at Pine Street Inn, who were chosen by The Boston Globe as a Top 100 Women-Led Business in Massachusetts for 2023. Congratulations to president and executive director Lyndia Downie and her team for this honor. Pine Street Inn is “the largest homeless services provider in New England,” with a bold vision “to end homelessness by making the safety and stability of permanent housing a reality for all.” This week is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, so please take a moment to learn more here.

In addition, November is Native American Heritage Month. You will find a terrific slate of activities at the Smithsonian, including the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) and other museums. NMAI will host events at both its locations, culminating on Native American Heritage Day (Friday, November 24) with an event to honor the Jingle Dress Dance in D.C. and a performance by the Akwesasne Women Singers in New York City. For film fans, NMAI’s Native Cinema Showcase will be available on-demand November 17 – 24.

Our clients at Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) are also celebrating a win. They recently voiced concern about sesame flour used in Olive Garden’s famous breadsticks, “on behalf of the 1.6 million Americans with a sesame allergy, and the more than 33 million Americans with a potentially life-threatening food allergy.” Their advocacy led the restaurant to change suppliers to ensure sesame-free breadsticks for their customers. FARE encourages people to thank Olive Garden by leaving a comment here or at (800)-331-2729.

In other news, Tian Tian, Mei Xiang, and little Xiao Qi Ji, the Smithsonian National Zoo’s beloved giant pandas, left D.C. for their new homes at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda. If you wonder about the logistics of flying pandas around the world or worry for the safety of the animals, rest assured. They arrived safely and were accompanied by two Smithsonian zookeepers, a veterinarian, and 220 pounds of bamboo. Zoo director Brandie Smith noted, “It’s been a hard week,” but she also has a positive outlook: “Please know that the future is bright for giant pandas. We remain committed to our program, and we look forward to celebrating with all of you when pandas can return to D.C.”

On a fundraising note, analytics VP Sarah Birnie shared Moceanic’s techniques to test in mid-level giving. They also make a good point that “it takes money to make money.” For nonprofits, this means understanding that fundraising is a strategic investment, not a sunk cost. Sometimes, spending more is the right answer. Fundraisers know this, but it isn’t uncommon for other stakeholders (including many donors and even some board members) to need education. It’s important that we continue to speak out when we encounter this misunderstanding.

Finally, Avalon will be closed for Thanksgiving Wednesday, November 22 – Friday, November 24. I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful holiday. I will also take the week of off from this email and will return to your inbox on (drumroll, please…) Giving Tuesday!

Take care,


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