FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 02.28.2023

In today’s @AvalonFYI dispatch: donor advised funds, how to renew your energy, the power of “I don’t know,” a typeface debate, museum innovation, and more. Read it here!


Dear friends,

It’s hard to believe, but tomorrow is the first day of March. We’ve had unusually warm weather in Annapolis, and I hope it continues. If you’re reading this from a place with snow on the ground, stay strong. Spring is coming!

In Black History this week, I’m excited to share a partnership between Avalon client SAGE and the digital publication Autostraddle. They are working to amplify and celebrate Black LGBTQ+ elders through the Black Elders Interview Project. The project features five inspiring Black LGBTQ+ elders, all of whom continue to make a difference. Great job, SAGE!

In leadership news, Senator John Fetterman (D-Pa.) modeled the importance of advocating for one’s mental health. I agree with marketing VP Barb Perell, who noted that it’s encouraging to see public support as he seeks treatment for depression. It is so important that more people recognize mental health as a medical priority, without stigma. I hope Senator Fetterman feels healthy again soon.

Barb also shared evergreen advice from HBR: Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time. The big idea is that time is a hard constraint, but energy can be renewed. One way to renew energy is with personal and group rituals. For example, Barb takes 10-minute puzzle breaks to reset her brain, and her husband plays bass guitar between meetings. I like taking my dogs for a quick walk. Are you also taking breaks that refresh your energy? I’d love to hear more examples.

Senior VP Jackie Libby recommended a Fast Company article on the power of saying “I don’t know.” Power, Poise, and Presence author Lizette Warner explains that saying “I don’t know” signals openness to new information, ideas, and innovation. This creates space for others to contribute, so teams can break new ground together:

As a leader, you are modeling how to handle an ‘I don’t know’ moment. You’re teaching everybody on the team that this is okay to do because leaders don’t have all the answers, but what they do have is a team. When you have a team, you’re super powerful because you’ve got different perspectives. Think out loud with the team.

In philanthropy, The NonProfit Times reported that donors to donor advised fund (DAF) Fidelity Charitable recommended $11.2 billion in grants during 2022. This represents growth of nearly $1 billion over 2021 (+9%) and reflects the double- and triple- digit increases we’re seeing in Avalon’s clients. The article points out that DAFs are uniquely able to help nonprofits weather a market downturn. By allowing donors to give when they can and grant funds later, DAFs can maintain strong distributions during lean years. Nonprofits should leverage direct marketing to encourage this kind of giving. Reach out to your Avalon team if you would like to learn more about DAF strategy and reporting.

Graphic designers are buzzing because the U.S. Department of State is updating its font. The agency is shifting “from the stalwart, stodgy Times New Roman to the younger, cooler Calibri.” If you didn’t know, many designers have strong opinions about typeface. So, the decision has generated some controversy. We’ve had a robust discussion around this in the internal Teams chat, but in general the drive to make media more accessible is a good thing. Design has tremendous power to influence attention, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.

Finally, I was glad to learn that more museums and parks are using colorblindness glasses to enhance visitors’ experiences. Over 4% of humans suffer color blindness, which can affect both physical and digital accessibility. Not only is this issue important, but I also love the history of the glasses. They were randomly discovered to enhance color visibility during a game of Ultimate Frisbee. It’s a good reminder that innovation can happen anywhere.

Take care,


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