FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 01.25.2022

The overhead myth, 2022’s words to avoid, QR codes, life hacks, and incredible sculptures—all in this week’s @AvalonConsultingGroup Dispatch. Read it here!


Dear friends,

It has been nice to see tentative good news about COVID from the Northeast. Though much is uncertain and hospitals are strained, the New York Times reported last week that Omicron may be in retreat. Meanwhile, here is the the official link to free COVID tests and information on where to find free N95 masks.

This month at Avalon, we held staff trainings on The Overhead Myth. Led by ethicist and coach Jenny Phillips, we screened and discussed Dan Pallotta’s 2013 TED Talk in small groups. Each group considered how we talk about overhead, risk, and investment in 2022. We reviewed Avalon’s philosophy, which centers on trust, accountability, and stewardship. And, we investigated DEI factors, such as how the overhead myth affects marginalized communities and the problem of white saviorism in social innovation. These conversations are so important.

Unfortunately, misconceptions around overhead persist. It’s imperative that we promote better understanding throughout the sector and with donors, journalists, and the public. To support that, I hope that you were able to join DMAW’s 2022 annual meeting, which featured a keynote from Robin Dreeke on building trust in communications and relationships. Trust and accountability are and will always be essential to our profession.

Speaking of communications, Blue Duck released its 2022 list of words to avoid. I always appreciate their thoughtful explanations of why we should think twice before using certain words and phrases, or perhaps avoid them altogether. This year’s list includes devastated, differently abled, and impact (among others).

On the digital side, I have noted before that QR codes reached a tipping point during the pandemic. I recently caught a “Scan to Give” code onscreen during a DRTV spot for the ASPCA, which reminded me how ubiquitous the technique has become. On a related note, direct mailers should know that USPS will offer a 2% postage discount for mailings that include a QR code or other barcode that donors can scan with their mobile devices (Fall 2022).

In productivity news, senior VP Margot O’Leary shared some time-saving tips for Windows 11. My favorite is this new Microsoft feature for minimizing distractions:

The “Title bar window shake” is a lifesaver for those times when you have a million windows open and you need to really drill down and focus on just one of them. To do so, you simply click and hold on your desired window’s title bar and, while holding the mouse button down, give it a little wiggle back and forth. All the other windows you have open will be minimized.

In addition, creative strategist Bonnie Catena shared this fantastic collection of life hacks from The Guardian. These 45 ways to slightly improve your life without trying really live up to the claim. Some of them are practical (“learn how to repair your clothes”), some are sweet (“make a friend from a different generation”), and some just made me laugh (“be polite to rude strangers—it’s oddly thrilling”).

Finally, marketing VP Barb Perell found this inspiring feature on Ghanaian Canadian artist Ekow Nimako. Nimako is an Afrofuturistic Lego sculptor, who describes his work as a form of political resistance: “You have to imagine the freedom, the emancipation. You have to imagine this struggle being over.” He uses black Legos exclusively, and each sculpture takes 50 to 800 hours to create. They are incredible!

Take care,


Allison Porter headshot

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