FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 01.16.2024

In this week’s @AvalonFYI dispatch, you will find a very special object at the Smithsonian, trends in philanthropy, the latest on AI, climate news, the opposite of “FOMO,” and Tetris. Read it here!

Dispatch banner


Dear friends,

I hope you enjoyed the long weekend and found ways to connect to Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. Kudos to everyone who participated in the National Day of Service!

(L) Barb stands next to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens sign. (R) The "haul" of nearly two dozen full bags of trash.
Marketing VP Barb Perell volunteered at the Student Conservation Association MLK Day of Service at Kenilworth Park and Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.

For those in the DC area, King’s original “I Have a Dream” speech is currently available for public view at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The item is on loan from Villanova University and will be on display at the museum January 8 – March 4, 2024.

Thank you to everyone who emailed or messaged me directly about my 2024 predictions. I appreciate that they resonated and look forward to more conversations with you. Reach out any time.

As you know, the past week brought intense weather across the United States. The storms coincided with new data from European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, which concludes that 2023 was the hottest year on record. Unfortunately, some scientists predict that 2024 will set a new record, further confirming the urgency of climate action. Thank you to all who work so hard to impact these issues. And to colleagues navigating this on a practical level—whether it’s a dropped Zoom call because your power went out, or you had to dash to pick up your kids because school closed early—we see you, and we’re learning to be flexible too!

The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 2024 trends to watch include donor-advised funds, recruiting young donors, polarization, staff retention, and artificial intelligence. On AI, they featured GivingTuesday’s Generosity AI working group as a good step forward. I’m following this work closely and appreciate how they are building a “problem library” to inform responsible use. GivingTuesday chief data officer Woodrow Rosenbaum wants nonprofits not only to be informed, but also to have a strong voice:

We shouldn’t just sit by while these technologies start getting integrated into all of the technology solutions that we use. Part of our mission is not just that the nonprofit sector doesn’t get left behind, but we think the nonprofit sector has an opportunity to inform how these tools are built.

Speaking of AI, Microsoft will be adding an AI button to Windows keyboards for quick access to Copilot, the company’s AI chatbot. According to their press release, this marks the first significant change to keyboard layout in 30 years. It will be interesting to see how this impacts use of the chatbot, as new devices come to market. If you haven’t already tried it out, here are a few ideas for how Copilot (a.k.a. “Clippy 2.0”) can make your life easier.

In wellbeing this week, marketing VP Barb Perell shared advice to embrace “JOMO” (joy of missing out). “JOMO” is the opposite of “FOMO” (fear of missing out). The latter is an unhappy state that, experts say, is made worse by social media. To support JOMO, we can be intentional about social media use, notice the effects, and take breaks. I appreciate this perspective:

The world is too rich, vast and varied for one person to experience in a lifetime, no matter how hard we try not to miss out. Appreciate and savor the joy in what you are doing, whether with a loved one or by yourself, without thinking about what others may be doing.

On a fun note, Barb also shared exciting news for gamers, especially those who are old enough to remember Game Boy. For the first time ever, a human player has beaten the classic game Tetris. The honor goes to Oklahoma teenager Willis Gibson, who reached level 157 in his record-breaking game. If you haven’t seen the viral video of his reaction, it is wholesome and delightful. Way to go, Willis!

Take care,
Allison signature gray

Allison Porter headshot

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