FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 03.19.2024

In this week’s @AvalonFYI dispatch, the latest on big tech’s new email security requirements, donor advised funds, conference news, how to procrastinate less, teambuilding, and more. Plus, a tribute to an old friend. Read it below:

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Dear friends,

Today is the first day of spring. We made it! Right on cue, the cherry blossoms are putting on a show in DC’s Tidal Basin. We reached peak bloom over the weekend, but the trees typically bloom for several days. I hope that everyone in the area can get outside and enjoy them.

March has also been good for professional development. Last week, Avalon sent team members to Portland, Oregon for NTEN’s Nonprofit Technology Conference, and others attended virtually. This week, you will see us at TNPA’s Nonprofit Fundraisers Symposium. I can’t wait to hear the insights from both these conferences. Thank you to everyone on our team for making professional development a priority.

In digital marketing, Google and Yahoo are beginning enforcement of the email security requirements they announced last fall. The changes involve three areas: DNS records, one-click unsubscribes, and spam reporting. Big picture, these changes are good for nonprofits, who are legitimate senders. However, it is important that your organization complies fully. This will ensure that your campaigns land correctly in every inbox, for maximum giving and engagement. If you aren’t sure where your nonprofit stands, please start by reading this guidance from Avalon Digital.

Also of interest, The Boston Globe published an article on donor advised funds. I thought it was a great primer if you need a refresher, or if you need a resource to share with your nonprofit’s leadership. The article explains how DAFs work, considers their impact, and tracks debate around the timing of distributions. DAFs are an increasingly popular vehicle for giving and an essential component of a healthy fundraising portfolio. In fact, we are seeing many donors shifting from traditional giving channels to DAF giving, and, if nonprofits aren’t tracking DAF revenue and donors, they are missing out on its impact. Please reach out to your Avalon team if you have questions.

In HR this week, senior director Melissa Ferrell shared advice on task avoidance. Many working adults struggle with avoidance procrastination or simply feel daunted by the prospect of starting something new. This kind of stress is normal, but it can create significant challenges when ignored. TEDX speaker and writer Gregg Vanourek recommends 17 practices to stop avoiding things, including noticing avoidant behavior, seeking its cause, setting deadlines, and developing habits that lead to action. I appreciated this reframe, which emphasizes a growth mindset:

Addressing something you’ve been avoiding can make you feel powerful. It can give you a sense of agency and accomplishment. Maybe it leads to momentum or greater confidence. Bear in mind that challenges can help you grow. They give you a chance to learn about yourself and others, all while developing your capabilities. With a growth mindset, you can view things that you previously avoided as opportunities for personal development and capacity-building.

In client news, Washingtonian featured Smithsonian Institution and National Air and Space Museum photographer Eric Long. The article gives a cool behind-the-scenes look, and it includes some incredible photos. I love the story of how Long first got the job—he was a visitor taking photos on the National Mall when a Smithsonian darkroom technician noticed his skill. A pre-internet professional meet cute!

Before I go, on a sad note, Hal Malchow is a longtime friend of Avalon, a former boss for some of our team, and an industry role model, leader, and mentor for so many of us. I was shocked to read this Politico article over the weekend, and Roger Craver wrote a lovely tribute in The Agitator. To say Hal is a pioneer is an understatement, and as fundraisers we have so much to thank him for. Hal has partnered with Avalon over the years, and his family has been part of the Avalon family – his brother Rick Malchow helped me start Avalon Analytics, and his son Alex Malchow was one of our interns. Since I heard the news, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Hal and feeling grateful for all he’s done. I’m sending lots of love to his family in this difficult week, and to all of you who are feeling so many complex emotions right now.

Take care,
Allison signature gray

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