FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 02.13.2024

Happy Lunar New Year! This week’s @AvalonFYI dispatch includes an opportunity to celebrate the Year of the Dragon, a little-known part of civil rights history, benchmarks, an idea to enhance focus, not one but TWO headlines from Sesame Street, and more. Read it here!

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Dear friends,

Avalon has resumed a normal schedule after our meeting-free week. Thank you for your flexibility! Our team reports that meeting-free week was a success, and I agree. I had a list of projects ready and took the opportunity to experiment with block scheduling to capitalize on my best focus time, which is generally mornings. Looking ahead, Avalon will be closed on Monday, February 19 for Presidents Day.

But first, Happy Lunar New Year! 2024 is the Year of the Dragon. Museum of Fine Arts Boston will host a Lunar New Year festival the evening of Thursday, February 15. The event will feature performances, activities, and dining specials—along with Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese art from MFA’s collection. The museum will offer $5 minimum pay-what-you-wish admissions, beginning at 5:00 PM.

Our clients at the National Parks Conservation Association produced a fascinating episode on Black history for their podcast, The Secret Lives of Parks. The episode, “Stamped in the Soil,” discusses the preservation of civil rights activists’ campsites along the march from Selma to Montgomery. The route itself has been designated as a National Historic Trail, but the campsites, provided by private landowners at great personal risk, have not. According to Philip Howard, podcast guest and program manager for The Conservation Fund’s Forgotten Civil Rights People and Places Program, the camps’ importance to civil rights history is vital:

It was freezing cold. They slept in barns, they slept in tents. Not an easy march at all. Very cold weather. Raining. But they did it anyway. The campsite families, if it were not for their actions, this march would not have happened, because the marchers would not have had a place to stay along the route.

In other client news, congratulations to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) for successfully challenging a Super Bowl ad by Uber Eats that mocked a peanut allergy. After FARE and their community raised concerns, Uber Eats removed the problematic reference. Not only are peanut allergies a life-threatening disease, but 1 in 3 children report verbal and physical bullying related to food allergies. Thank you to everyone at FARE for speaking out: “The suffering of over 33 million Americans who live with life-threatening food allergy is no joke.”

In fundraising, Names in the News released an updated Acquisition Advisor. They report reason for optimism, based on macroeconomic indicators. Economic optimism metrics have been up and down, but early Q4 data looks promising. However, there is also significant uncertainty, stemming from domestic and international politics and heightened by the presidential election. In addition, Names in the News recommends matchback analysis to capture the evolving relationship between direct mail and online giving. We agree and note that matchbacks are especially important for web gifts and giving from donor-advised funds. It is critical for strategy that we understand the multichannel impact of each campaign.

On a sweet note, I loved this article about Flaco the Owl, who escaped from the Central Park Zoo and is enjoying his freedom to the delight of all New Yorkers. The list of celebrities weighing in is impressive, but Big Bird was the most welcoming: “I admire Flaco because he had a big dream, he believed in himself and he followed his heart. Flaco, if you ever read this, I hope you’ll fly on over to Sesame Street for a visit. My nest is your nest!”

Also from Sesame Street, Elmo reached out on X to say “Elmo is just checking in! How is everybody doing?” Well, it turns out 140 million people needed to hear that question, and they’re not doing great. Elmo was not quite prepared for the overwhelming level of engagement: the post had over 209 million views, 15 thousand reposts and 45 thousand quotes. Elmo followed up with, “Wow! Elmo is glad he asked! Elmo learned it is important to ask a friend how they are doing.” I agree! So, hit reply and let me know: How is everybody doing?

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