FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 12.07.2021

A record-breaking Giving Tuesday, strategic appreciation, psychologically safe workspaces, and more—all in this week’s @AvalonConsultingGroup dispatch. Read it here!


Dear friends,

To those who celebrated Hanukkah last week, I hope it was a happy holiday. Avalon enjoyed a virtual Hanukkah celebration, hosted by VP Dara Igersheim, account director Nova Cohen-Prohow, and their families. Thank you, Dara and Nova, for a special gathering!

Dara Igersheim and her son light a menorah

Dara Igersheim and her son share their Hanukkah traditions.

It was wonderful to see some of you in person at last week’s DMAW Best of Direct celebration. I was honored to emcee the event with Tiffany Neil of Lautman. Congratulations to Roger Hiyama, EVP of Solutions and Innovation at Wiland, on his induction into the DMAW Hall of Leaders. He shared this wisdom with us, from his mother: “dive in with both feet” to see something through. It’s a good reminder to give it our all as we hopefully DMAW Best of Direct celebration head back to some sort of normal.

Everyone should be very proud of a successful Giving Tuesday. According to the GivingTuesday Data Commons, it was a record breaking event—totaling $2.7 billion in donations (up 9% from 2020). Organizers estimate that 35 million U.S. adults engaged in some way, whether through philanthropy, volunteering, or donating goods.

Avalon clients also achieved strong results. Matching gifts, countdown clocks, and mission-based story telling won the day. (Check out these cool mission-relevant animations!) Also, if you haven’t seen it, the GivingTuesday 2021: Thank You video is inspiring.

Speaking of gratitude, acknowledgements remain critical for connecting with and retaining donors. Earlier this year, SGengage published a great post on this topic. They emphasize that appreciation should be a strategic commitment, not just a box to check. This adds value to your organization in four ways:

  1. Strengthening donor relationships.
  2. Increasing donor retention.
  3. Encouraging donors to give more.
  4. Inspiring others to give.

In other fundraising news, Stanford Social Innovation Review recently presented new research on behavioral economics and online giving. They report that small changes can make a big impact, especially at year end. I also appreciate their caution to utilize behavioral nudges judiciously, for the benefit of all:

Nudges are interventions that can shape a donor’s intuition, remove barriers, and simplify actions. The question for each nonprofit is how to use them in a way that is both effective and perceived as fair. Donors should see their needs as being better accommodated, not exploited, and a successful nudge will be of value to both the nonprofit organization and the donors themselves.

Internally at Avalon, we’ve been reading about psychologically safe workspaces. In Make Your Meetings a Safe Space for Honest Conversation, HBR contributor Paul Axtell shares practical advice for leaders and explains, “People don’t just want to belong, they want to contribute.” This is an excellent reminder as we all recommit to DEI improvement in the new year.

On a related note, Avalon data analyst Alexis Krivian shared a terrific anti-harassment resource with our team. The nonprofit Hollaback! offers free training on responding to, preventing, and intervening in instances of harassment. On their site, you can also read about the 5 D’s of bystander intervention: Distract, Delegate, Document, Delay, and Direct. I found this very helpful.

Finally, the Washingtonian has a fantastic photo spread of holiday decorations at the White House. First Lady Dr. Jill Biden chose a wonderful theme: Gifts from the Heart. I particularly love the doves and shooting stars of the East Colonnade, which “represent peace and light provided by front line workers and first responders during the pandemic.” Everything looks beautiful!

Take care,


Allison Porter headshot

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