FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 02.27.2024

This week we honor both Black History Month and Women’s History Month! Read all about it in today’s @AvalonFYI dispatch, along with client news, a best practice for donation pages, advice on embracing change, an out-of-this-world opportunity, and more…

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Dear friends,

This week we honor both Black History Month and Women’s History Month! I invite you to join me in exploring the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum’s resource page on Black women in American history. The new museum will also launch its inaugural digital exhibition, “Becoming Visible,” on International Women’s Day (March 8). It is so exciting to see the museum reach this milestone.

Avalon is also celebrating several clients in the news. First up, The Journalist’s Resource covered “how—and why—to create a voter’s guide to local and state judicial elections.” Brennan Center for Justice senior counsel Douglas Keith weighs in throughout the article, explaining the importance of state and local judges and their election processes. In addition, the article links to Brennan Center resources on judicial selection, including their interactive map.

In “Care Out of the Closet,” writers at The Baffler outlined the intersecting struggles of LGBTQ+ elders, from gender and identity discrimination to the systemic failures of the nursing home industry. This is a heavy-hearted read, but it also highlights the important work our client SAGE is doing to support LGBTQ+ elders:

“This is the very first generation to be out. Now they are entering a point in life when they are more vulnerable and at risk,” Aaron Tax, SAGE’s managing director of government affairs and policy advocacy, told [author Ann Neumann]. “As they think back on the history of stigma, they wonder if they should be careful about being out. Some decide to go back in the closet when they enter long-term care.” SAGE works to prevent elders from returning to the closet.

And, Tagg Magazine featured Kendra Frith, a queer woman who fled persecution in Jamaica and is seeking asylum in the United States, with help from Rainbow Railroad. Frith had an impressive background of LGBTQ+ advocacy in Jamaica, and she now works as senior engagement officer for Rainbow Railroad, where she “loves helping others bear the burden and stress of starting over.” Her story is an inspiring example of authenticity, commitment, and courage.

In other news, senior VP Margot O’Leary noted a post by Future Fundraising Now, which advises strongly against video on donation pages. Research by NextAfter shows that text-only donation pages consistently outperform those with video—by as much as 527% in one case! As Margot said, this is not surprising, but it’s helpful to see such decisive findings. We have seen similar results in our testing, and, as always, it’s important to learn how your audience responds. Video can be a great tool for communicating, but it isn’t a blanket solution.

Senior VP Jackie Libby shared research on why people resist change and how to become more open. In an article for Fast Company, Kellogg School of Management professor David Schonthal describes four obstacles: (1) inertia, which preserves the status quo, (2) reactance, which protects autonomy, (3) emotional friction, or avoidance of negative feelings, and (4) effort-based friction, which is wary of extra work. Schonthal’s advice is to “diagnose the ‘personal friction’ you’re feeling, then apply proven remedies to reframe what you’re resistant to as an opportunity rather than a problem—or at the very least as something manageable.”

Finally, if you have a STEM degree and long for adventure, look no further. NASA is recruiting volunteers for a yearlong simulated mission to Mars. These “analog astronauts” will stay on earth, but they will have typical space tasks, including spacewalks, habitat care, crop growth, and exercise. It sounds fun but consider yourself warned: “The Mars Dune Alpha Habitat will come with limited resources and is guaranteed to have equipment failures and communication delays and other ‘environmental stressors.’” To me, it sounds like Survivor for scientists. If you apply, I wish you luck!

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