FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 04.04.2023

We’re back at our home offices from the Avalon retreat—and back with a new edition of the @AvalonFYI dispatch! Get the scoop here on friendship at work, nonprofit trends, art messaging, early infographics, accessible slide decks, and more.


Dear friends,

Last week’s Avalon retreat was a great success. Thank you to COO Kerri Kerr, senior director of HR Melissa Ferrell, marketing and operations manager Mollie Bensen, the retreat team, and week-of volunteers for your vision, creativity, and hard work on this incredible event. Thanks also to the Avalon team for making the trip and for being so fun. We knocked it out of the park!

The Avalon team on Avalon HQ rooftop, viewed from above. It's late afternoon and the Washington Monument is in the background. The Avalon Team, March 2023.

It was sad to say goodbye, and I’m reminded that a strong team culture includes social connections. NPR recently reported on the importance of friendship at work for happiness and job satisfaction—and the recommendations track with my personal experience. It can be challenging to make friends in a remote environment, but it’s more important than ever. I’ll keep sharing how we support these connections at Avalon, and I would love to hear what works for your teams.

One thing we did that worked well was to play “Avalon Bingo” at our all-staff happy hour last Monday. This was a get-to-know-you game, with randomized, relatable facts like “can lift one eyebrow,” “has attended a protest,” and “uses their public library card.” We played in person, but you can also play a virtual game via Congrats to our winners: Linda Travis, Sue Sena, and Kaitlyn McHale!

In other news, kudos to senior VP Jackie Libby, who was chosen as a forecaster for NonProfit Pro’s “40 Nonprofit Trends for 2023” report. She is also quoted in their article, “8 Major Nonprofit Trends for 2023,” where she spoke on the continued importance of DEI action and choice points:

It’s time to put action against our DEI strategies. We must become aware of what informs our choices and align those choices with DEI goals that are important to us…Specifically, this means we need to recognize choice points and how to have informed conversations about them. And we must innovate, test, and report on our findings from using DEI-informed techniques, such as adjusting the reading level of our materials, working to engage more impacted communities in outreach, or testing urgency in an appeal.

In messaging this week, Future Fundraising Now shared an engaging post from Culture for Hire on arts messaging. Author Ruth Hartt rewrote an open letter from the BBC Singers, a choral group terminated by BBC in a recent round of changes. As Hartt points out, the letter was focused entirely on the ensemble’s excellence and missed an opportunity to communicate their impact and relevance:

Excellence is no longer a strong enough argument. Neither is renown or historic legacy… Not only do we alienate those who aren’t part of our world—and therefore can’t appreciate our excellence—we miss out on an extraordinary opportunity to illuminate what makes us truly relevant.

I’ve also been reading about the Cooper Hewitt exhibit, “Deconstructing Power: W.E.B. Du Bois at the 1900 World’s Fair.” It is open through May and features data visualizations by W.E.B. Du Bois. In 1900, these early infographics broke new ground in data storytelling and challenged American racism. Today, their clear design and far-reaching, positive impact continue to inspire progressive change.

In addition, analytics VP Sarah Birnie shared a great resource on creating accessible slides. (Think Powerpoint, not playgrounds.) This is a great list of actionable tips that you can put to use right away, including add a title to every slide, use at least 18-point font, and DON’T USE ALL CAPS.

Finally, I know you’re on the edge of your seats for the Avalon bracket winners. Sarah Birnie, Caroline Arnold, Linda Travis, Will Griffiths, and Jackie Libby finished with top scores in the men’s tournament. The women’s bracket winners were Ali Forsberg, Sarah Birnie, Jackie Libby, Linda Travis, and Caroline Arnold. It has also been fun to see the NCAA women’s teams outplay the NBA in ESPN ratings. Congrats to all!

Take care,


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