FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 08.17.2021


Dear friends,

I’m excited to begin this week’s dispatch by sharing Avalon’s return to office plans. I recently announced to staff and clients that we will remain a remote-first team, and that all staff will retain full-time telecommuting benefits. We will continue to have a physical office headquarters in Washington, DC, but we have reconceived it as a site for client meetings and a gathering and conversation space. When it is safe and you are ready to collaborate in person, we will be there.

Meanwhile, all eyes are on the Delta variant. Our teams are working hard to ensure that every campaign is sensitive to emerging news. The Wall Street Journal recently covered this ongoing challenge and counseled caution around optimistic tones in marketing. Optimism was a good fit for early summer, but authenticity demands something else now. Since COVID guidelines are in flux, Avalon recommends retaining flexibility for late changes to copy and images. This includes strategically placed lasering for direct mail and a final message review before hitting send on emails. This will be especially important for content that references in-person activities.

I also recommend this article on “the anatomy of a charity media hit piece,” which was written by Steve Nardizzi for NonprofitPRO. It breaks down recent coverage of fundraising and administrative costs at the ASPCA—and recommends that nonprofits speak out against misleading stories. According to Nardizzi, it’s on all of us set the record straight:


Context matters. Impact matters. And the best defense against such misinformed and poor reporting is to effectively communicate the context of spending decisions and reinforce the impact being made. Unfortunately, in the wake of a negative story anything the subject organization says will appear self-serving. That’s why it’s up to all of us in the sector to respond when these stories occur by providing the context and promoting the impact.


In other fundraising news, August is Black Philanthropy Month, a global celebration and campaign to elevate African-descent giving. There are many ways to get involved, and you can amplify efforts on social media with the hashtag #BPM2021.

On a cultural note, the Smithsonian just released its Anthology of Hip Hop and Rap, and it’s awesome! I joined the crowdfunding campaign when it launched a few years ago, and the beautiful box set arrived last week. The New York Times ran a story about the project, including some good questions about whether the collection is a definitive canon. Dwandalyn R. Reece, associate director for curatorial affairs and curator of music and performing arts at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, answered: “I know people will look at the anthology as a canon, but that was not our intention. This is a story, not the definitive story. What I hope for the anthology is that it starts a dialogue.”

Finally, the past week has given us a lot of news to process, particularly on the COVID, climate, and international fronts. If you’re spending more time on your phone, you are not alone, but be careful: doomscrolling exacts a toll. I like the idea of asking, “If you couldn’t use your phone, what would you do instead?” Hobbies, time with loved ones, sleep, and even work can be good outlets. I consider fundraisers lucky that our profession connects us to positive impact every day—certainly a worthy alternative!


Take care,


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