FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 12.14.2021

This week’s @AvalonConsultingGroup dispatch highlights how to use stats in fundraising copy + inclusive design, industry news, and creative lessons from Vogue magazine. Get the scoop here!


Dear friends,

It was an honor to present at the Direct Marketing Fundraisers Association event last week. Stephanie Ceruolo, Dennis Lonergan, and I spoke on industry trends to watch for 2022, including many I’ve been writing about here, such as cost and supply chain issues, data privacy, transparency, and donor sentiment. Congratulations to Steve Froehlich, Chief Revenue and Development Officer at ALSAC St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, on becoming DMFA’s 2021 Marketer of the Year.

At Avalon, we hosted another session of our Thinking Creatively film club. We have covered a lot of ground with this series, including not only marketing and the science of creativity, but also innovators from the arts, technology, architecture, and fashion. Our latest film was The September Issue, which documents Anna Wintour’s leadership and the creative culture at Vogue. Our team had a lively conversation about what makes a great creative collaboration in different environments.

Speaking of fashion, marketing VP Barb Perell shared this fascinating story on innovation at Nike. The impetus for the company’s new Flyease shoes (which snap right onto your feet) was sparked in 2008 when “then-Nike CEO Mark Parker learned that the company’s first employee had suffered a stroke and lost the use of one hand.” It’s a great example of inclusive design that also benefits a wider audience.

In our industry, Vu Le of Nonprofit AF wrote a beautiful piece on 14 things he would tell his younger self. The list covers everything from self-confidence to leadership to vision to rest and joy. I love his perspective and frequent tough talk. This reflection on power is a great example:

Each of us holds some degree of power, and it’s important to constantly check and, if needed, mitigate the effect it has on others. Formal power, such as a position you hold, is more salient, but there is also power that comes with being white, male, educated, non-disabled, cisgender, heteronormative, higher income, English speakers, neuro-typical, etc. No matter how nice and humble you are, there are always power dynamics to watch for.

On a more technical note, Belardi Wong released a December Fundraising Report last week with many good insights. Of particular interest, they report that direct mail is not the only channel facing cost pressures. In an interview with CNBC, Belardi Wong president Polly Wong explained the economics behind rising costs for digital ads.

Avalon’s strategy for this is to champion an omnichannel, donor-first approach backed by strong analytics—so our clients’ fundraising dollars meet donors where they are, with effective messaging and techniques that will motivate them to give and enhance their connection to the organization. I like this definition of omnichannel from Bethany Maki at the Integrated Marketing Advisory Board:

Omnichannel marketing is an approach which should deliver a consumer’s desired experience with your organization. It is the mechanism for creating a continuous experience that recognizes how, where and why your constituents interact with you. Omnichannel marketing requires that a consumer’s behavior in one channel or program should influence his experience in others.

Also of interest, account director Nova Cohen-Prohow shared a good post from The Agitator (via Future Fundraising Now) on how to use statistics in fundraising. Roger Craver’s central point is that you should invite donors to connect with your nonprofit’s stories, not overwhelm them with abstract data. If you want to use stats in your copy, highlight smaller, tangible numbers and give donors “a problem they can take a bite out of.”

In HR news, the Washingtonian posted a great round-up of employee-friendly benefits and perks that local companies have adopted during the pandemic. We were delighted and honored to learn that Avalon made the list with our work-from-home coffee run (#16)! It’s one of many Avalon benefits that we are proud to offer our team.

Finally, these photos of iconic 2021 moments are fantastic. It has certainly been quite a year!

Take care,


Allison Porter headshot

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