FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 01.23.2024

In this week’s @AvalonFYI dispatch, we share key themes for Avalon team culture in 2024, the value of a good apology, the building blocks of trust, and the power of simple fundraising copy. Read it here!

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Dear friends,

Last week was a planning week for Avalon senior leaders. This year, we gathered in Miami to enjoy both the benefits of in-person collaboration and some warm weather. Washington, DC will always be Avalon’s home, but one perk of a fully remote team is that, with home offices around the country, we can meet in new places. Thank you to everyone who made the trip!

(L) The Avalon team works on tables in library room. (R) Eight people are dressed nicely and smiling outside a restaurant somewhere it's warm enough to wear sleeveless shirts.Avalon senior leaders hard at work in the library during the day, and enjoying each other’s company (and the mild temperatures) at night.

Two key themes for Avalon in 2024 will be Collaboration and Belonging. COO Kerri Kerr is leading the charge to operationalize these values, which are a natural extension of Avalon’s team culture. I am so proud of our senior team for their commitment and work on this. And I am so grateful for Kerri’s inspiring message to our staff:

I loved this quote from Vice President Harris, from her remarks at the NAACP South Carolina State Conference on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: “Let us not throw up our hands when it’s time to roll up our sleeves. Because we were born for a time such as this.”

We’re coming off a busy year end and headed into a time that will define our nation. The work we do matters in these critical months ahead as we continue to support causes that make our country – and our world – a better, more welcoming place. It all starts with how we treat each other, and I cannot think of a better group of people with whom I’d rather roll up my sleeves and get to work.

Kerri also shared an excellent post from Anti-Racism Daily on the value of a good apology. They teach that “U.S. culture tends to prioritize punishment over accountability. To disrupt these systems, we must disrupt how we relate to apologies.” In addition, they emphasize that no one is entitled to forgiveness after apologizing, and they outline four stages of a good apology:

  1. Invest in self-reflection.
  2. Say you’re sorry.
  3. Acknowledge the impact.
  4. Change your behavior.

On a related note, Stanford Social Innovation Review recently emphasized the role of nonprofits in repairing social trust. The article, “How Organizations Build Trust,” explains the current “trust deficit” and outlines a process for nonprofits and academic institutions to lead the way. The authors define trustworthiness as “actions aligned with values,” and they issue the following call to action for leaders:

Ask yourself and your team: Is what we are doing today, this week, this year increasing trust or eroding it? You have a unique position and can use your power to make trust a strength for your organization to create better outcomes for our society.

In fundraising last week, Jeff Brooks at Future Fundraising Now offered evergreen advice about effective fundraising copy: keep it simple! The important thing to remember is that easy-to-read copy lifts fundraising metrics again and again. If someone in your organization insists otherwise, show them the data. You can also remind them that less than half of Americans read above sixth-grade level, and even fewer understand nonprofit jargon. Fortunately, this is an area where AI tools like Read Easy can support accessibility.

Finally, senior director of HR Melissa Ferrell shared advice on avoiding seasonal affective disorder. It’s good to know there are steps we can take, and that every day in January brings more light. Today, the sun will set in Washington, DC at 5:19 PM, which is much better than December’s earliest sunset of 4:59 PM. So, hang in there! Daylight savings is coming.

Take care,
Allison signature gray

Allison Porter headshot

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