FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 11.29.2022

Happy GivingTuesday! In today’s @AvalonFYI dispatch, you will find insights from the GivingTuesday Data Commons + midterm analysis, how to be relevant, the Best of Direct, and plenty of holiday cheer.

Dear friends,

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, in large part for the slow time with family, while (let’s be honest) everyone else is out and work emails are not piling up. I’m grateful for a few days catching up with my extended family and being with both my boys, exploring Vermont, watching the World Cup and some football, sitting in front of a fire, and enjoying good conversations. I am also grateful to my brother and sister-in-law for all the good food – it is a treat to have professional chefs in the family!

Alex, Allison and Luca stand in front of a red barn, smiling broadly. Alex is in red plaid flannel, Allison wears light blue flannel with pink accents, and Luca wears a red Colgate College sweatshirt and gray baseball hat.A Vermont Thanksgiving calls for extra flannel! With my sons Alex (L) and Luca (R).

Turning to fundraising, the big news today is GivingTuesday. I am always inspired by the generosity of both fundraisers and donors in this season. And reviewing last year’s data, I was struck by the fact that monetary donations are just the tip of the iceberg. According to the GivingTuesday Data Commons, of the 82% of Americans who gave in 2021, only 7% gave money exclusively. 80% of participants engaged in 2 forms of giving, and 27% engaged in 3 or 4 forms. (They track 4 forms of giving: money, time, advocacy, and items.) These numbers are a good reminder that many donors want deep connections to the causes they care about—and that nonprofits should not shy away from soliciting the support they need.

Tomorrow, DMAW will celebrate The 14th Best of Direct. Being selected for the Hall of Leaders in 2017 was a career highlight for me, and kudos to this year’s honoree, Tracy Lea of the Harrington Agency. I’m also excited to reprise my emceeing role with Tiffany Neill—and am thrilled that Avalon VP Rebecca Shapalis will be honored as a DMAW Board of Directors Superhero. I am personally grateful to Rebecca and all our staff who volunteer on various boards. It’s a very special service to our community. On behalf of Avalon and our entire industry, thank you and congrats!

For your reading lists, SVP Margot O’Leary shared a book recommendation from Jeff Brooks at Future Fundraising Now: The Art of Relevance, by Nina Simon. The book was written for arts and cultural organizations, who must navigate a knowledge gap between experts on staff and their audiences. However, as Brooks points out, this gap exists for every organization—and fundraisers can help bridge the divide. Simon has a great reminder for messaging pros: “You cannot assign relevance by fiat. People choose for themselves what is relevant. You can’t dictate it from on high.”

Speaking of relevant, I have appreciated the Brennan Center for Justice’s midterm election content. In “Democracy Wins the 2022 Midterms,” they evaluate the health of U.S. democracy and explain how it functioned well last month. (The good news is that election deniers’ damage was contained; the bad news is that billionaires exerted oversized influence.) I also recommend “How Criminal Justice Reformers Fared in the Midterms” and the Brennan Center’s panel with David Plouffe, “The Midterms: What Happened and Where Do We Go From Here?”

Finally, mark your calendars for Wolf Trap’s Holiday Sing A-Long on December 3rd. This in-person event is free with registration. For more holiday fun, don’t miss the National Museum of the American Indian’s Native Art Market—open December 3rd and 4th in both Washington, DC and New York City. For online shopping, I love Grand Canyon Conservancy’s Holiday Gift Guide. Thank you, Avalon clients, for the holiday cheer!

Take care,


Allison signature gray

Allison Porter headshot

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