FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 04.12.2022

Compassionate management, the pros and cons of crypto, a striking data visualization, and Avalon’s winning brackets—all in this week’s @AvalonConsultingGroup dispatch. Read it here! 


Dear friends,

I am thrilled by the historic confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. I’m sure that you also watched the vote and have followed commentary closely. I particularly liked these reflections from Black women at Jackson’s alma mater, Harvard Law School. And did you catch the cold open from last week’s Saturday Night Live? They did a great job celebrating the milestone, while also calling out America’s too-slow pace of progress.

In sector news, account director Nova Cohen-Prohow shared a fascinating op-ed on how nonprofits are approaching crypto-philanthropy. The author explains that many charities cash out cryptocurrencies immediately to minimize financial risk. However, some nonprofits are refusing the donations altogether, on ethical grounds. They view the crypto economy as predatory, regret its environmental impact, or both. It’s a good idea for fundraisers and other nonprofit leaders to assess where they stand on these emerging issues.

Speaking of the environment, I found this “climate spiral” data visualization both alarming and captivating. Created by scientist Ed Hawkins at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Reading, it shows the change in global temperatures over a 141-year period. I am reminded yet again that data visualizations have tremendous power to define an issue, deepen understanding, and motivate action.

At Avalon, we continue our work of auditing and managing the impact of paper shortages. Program manager Alex Andrew and assistant program manager Emma Scott reported back from DMAW’s DM101 that the average time to execute a direct mail campaign has traditionally been a quick 7 – 8 weeks. Compare that to the current climate, which has us planning for September campaigns today, securing label stock for next year, and following postal reform well into the future. Kudos to our team and yours for tackling these challenges with such determination, creativity, and hard work.

Avalonians have also been discussing blurred boundaries between home and work. This topic came up in The Nonprofit Alliance’s recent Leadership Summit, and senior VP Jackie Libby shared it with our team. Both technology and the shift to virtual work have accelerated this issue. For example, the average commute before COVID was 38 minutes each way, so deleting that from the equation was a huge change to daily routines. I was reminded of this article from last year about using a “fake commute” to recreate transitions between home and office (and reestablish boundaries).

Related, senior VP Margot O’Leary shared excellent advice from HBR on how to be a supportive manager when times are tough. Experts recommend “compassionate management,” which balances each employee’s needs with the needs of their team and organization. They suggest five practices for leading in times of stress and uncertainty:

  1. Take time to process your own emotions.
  2. Acknowledge what’s happening.
  3. Encourage self-compassion.
  4. Ask people what they need.
  5. Model self-care.

One way leaders can model self-care is to use our PTO. If you haven’t scheduled a vacation (or staycation) yet, let this be your nudge to make a plan for rest and recreation. For inspiration, Margot also shared a neat article from Conde Nast Traveler on the best national park road trips. Summer is coming!

Finally, congrats to senior fundraising program managers Linda Travis and Virginia Burns on their winning brackets for the Avalon 2022 March Madness competition. Of 35 brackets submitted for the Women’s and Men’s tournaments, only Linda and Virginia correctly picked the winners. This has become such a fun tradition. In my completely biased opinion, Avalon March Madness is just as exciting as the NCAA.

Take care,


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