FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 04.09.2024

In this week’s @AvalonFYI dispatch, you will find advice on readability, changes at Microsoft, and a new report on the experiences of BIPOC leaders. Most importantly, we honor our former colleague, Amelia Stanley, who passed away on April 2. As Jackie Libby wrote in her moving tribute, “Amelia will be missed by all who knew her. The world is not as bright without her in it.”

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Dear friends,

I hope you were able to view the solar eclipse yesterday. In anticipation of the event, David Baron, former NPR science correspondent and recent chair of astrobiology at the Library of Congress, shared a hopeful perspective: “how the eclipse might heal our tattered nation.” He emphasized that each eclipse creates a moment of unity and collective inspiration:

Total eclipses can also change the course of history. They have ended and fostered armed conflict. A 19th-century eclipse helped inspire America’s rise as a scientific power… And this year’s eclipse, I pray, just might nudge our fractured nation in a hopeful, unified direction.

Here on earth, senior vice-president Margot O’Leary and account director Stephanie Frazier are in Toronto visiting our clients at Rainbow Railroad and attending the AFP Icon conference. This year’s opening keynote speaker was Nikole Hannah-Jones, who covers racial justice for The New York Times Magazine and won a Pulitzer for creating The 1619 Project. It was an exciting start to a great conference.

For upcoming campaigns, consider this advice on readability from Jeff Brooks at Future Fundraising Now. As you probably know, “easy to read” is a hallmark of good copy. To achieve this, Brooks advises fundraisers to look beyond standard readability scores, which only measure sentence length and word length. In addition, fundraisers should assess vocabulary, cadence, and relevance. Readability tools remain important, but they don’t replace the human work of knowing how your audience reads.

In IT this week, senior VP Jackie Libby shared news from Microsoft. The company has been facing antitrust claims in the European Union, stemming from a complaint by Slack in 2020. Specifically, Slack argues that “Microsoft has illegally tied its Teams product into its market-dominant Office productivity suite, force installing it for millions, blocking its removal, and hiding the true cost to enterprise customers.” As a result, Microsoft will unbundle Teams and Office globally, to provide more clarity and choice. Avalon does not plan to change our tech stack, but it’s good to have options.

On a DEI note, NonProfit Quarterly recently covered the experiences of leaders of color in the nonprofit sector. They cite a new report by the Building Movement Project, which concludes that many nonprofits fail to “pull” BIPOC professionals into leadership through training, mentorship, and attractive opportunities. Instead, they “push” them into leadership to address challenges. As a result, many BIPOC executives must deal with institutional obstacles, lower support from board and staff members, and increased burnout. It’s important to be aware that “ascending to an executive position does not end a leader’s struggle with racism, and sometimes increases those struggles.”

Finally, with grief, I share news that former Avalon team member Amelia Stanley died of breast cancer on April 2. Amelia worked with us for four years before moving to the client side, where she served at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and, most recently, as senior director of development at Sixth & I. To honor Amelia, Senior VP Jackie Libby wrote a moving tribute, which we shared on our website. Thank you, Jackie, for helping us to remember Amelia and say goodbye. Your words ring true:

Amelia was so passionate about the arts and was a committed fundraiser. But more so, she was a life force. For those of you who worked with her, her presence in the office was unparalleled. She had so much energy and infectious spirit, and she made working really fun… Amelia will be missed by all who knew her. The world is not as bright without her in it.

Take care,
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Allison Porter, President
Avalon Consulting Group