In this week’s @AvalonFYI dispatch, learn how we’re helping our team focus on high-value work. You will also find client success, nonprofit KPIs, growth mindset, a special film screening, and more. Read it here:
Avalon has been on the move, this time traveling west. VPs Lisa Caldwell and Aly Wells, senior account director Barbara Carey, and senior program manager Sara Rycroft visited San Francisco for client meetings last week. They report that the trip was a whirlwind and a huge success. Thank you to everyone at Monterey Bay Aquarium and San Francisco Symphony for your hospitality!
(L) Barb, Sara, and Lisa enjoy the sights at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. (R) Aly poses with a poster of the guest conductor at the San Francisco Symphony.
As January winds down, my feed is full of articles on staying resolved. Apparently, the second Friday in January is known as “Quitters Day” for many people. I hope you made it through! I don’t always make resolutions, but I’m a big believer in growth mindset and continuous improvement. These are especially relevant for direct marketers, who know that testing, data, and feedback should always inform the next campaign.
Speaking of data, I hosted a digital session for SALA Series on key performance indicators (KPIs) in nonprofits. This was a small group discussion covering theory of change, impact metrics, and how to track both short- and long-term goals. As always with data, my advice is to focus on consistent tracking over time, using KPIs that provide a broad review of where things stand. From there, you can and should dig into the WHY—and fully understand the story behind your nonprofit’s numbers.
On a client note, congratulations to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) on their short documentary film, It’s a Disease, Not a Diet. The film is narrated by FARE CEO Sung Poblete, RN, PhD, who is one of many Americans with life-threatening food allergies. It is an engaging, informative, and eye-opening 10 minutes. I echo this appreciation from senior VP Margot O’Leary: “I know I speak for everyone who has worked on this account that learning about this issue has opened my eyes to what the 33 million Americans with life-threatening allergies have to navigate day-in and day-out.”
In other news, Big Duck released its Words to Avoid for 2024. I always find their suggestions thought-provoking. This year, they included “AI / Artificial Intelligence” on the list—but don’t worry, they aren’t proposing a ban! They are concerned that, when used as a generic placeholder, the phrase “AI” can be too ambiguous. This creates a lose-lose by stoking fear and reducing transparency. Instead, Big Duck recommends being intentional and specific when describing both the kinds of AI being used and the context for that use. I agree, and I appreciate their note of caution:
With so much unease and hesitation surrounding artificial intelligence, it’s important to be specific so we’re not contributing to sensationalized narratives or misrepresenting how we use AI.
Finally, Avalon will conduct a meeting-free week next week, February 5 – 9. This strategy creates intentional space for our team to focus on deep work and advancing client campaigns. Your Avalon team will arrange alternatives for regular meetings that occur during this window. In addition, we will be available by email and are ready to meet if an urgent issue arises. Thank you for supporting this effort to ensure the best possible work for your programs.