FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 05.25.21


Dear friends,

I have been eager to share some exciting news with you, and as of yesterday it’s official:

Welcome to Jake Koenigsberg, Avalon’s new Communications Director!

Jake brings 17 years of copywriting experience to our team, along with unparalleled expertise in content strategy and fundraising copy. He has been an Avalon partner for over a decade, and many of you already know him by the brilliant copy he has written for your campaigns. He will spearhead our copy department, and, needless to say, I am thrilled.

In other Avalon news, we have added a third installment to our blog series on DEI-Informed fundraising, “Data Practices Should Support Your DEI Goals.” Our starting point is this call to action from Rella Kaplowitz and Jasmine Laroche: “How and what we collect sends a message about who counts—and who is made invisible.” From there, we explore emerging best practices, the principle of algorithmic justice, and our DEI task force’s recommendations for data collection, storage, and output.

Related to algorithmic justice, Twitter recently acknowledged bias in their saliency algorithm, which they use to crop uploaded photos for display. In a post on their research process, findings, and response, the company confirms: “Even if the saliency algorithm were adjusted to reflect perfect equality across race and gender subgroups, we’re concerned by the representational harm of the automated algorithm.” I’m glad Twitter is doing this work, although the story illustrates how much influence one company can have on important social issues (and how hidden that influence can be).

Speaking of which, Parler has returned to the App Store. Apple has required that the platform exclude all posts marked as hate, so users on Apple devices will not encounter that content. Unfortunately, the moderation of hate speech ends there and will not extend to other devices or browsers. As the Washington Post reports, “As the sole gatekeeper of what apps can appear on iPhones, Apple is as important an arbiter of online speech as Facebook or Twitter — though it is more often overlooked.”

Back to fundraising, Avalon has been circulating the M+R series on effective creative, which identifies five key elements: need, impact, urgency, relevancy and authenticity. Part one on need and part two on impact are available on their blog now. While you’re there, I also recommend their guide to ethical and effective direct response creative.

For anyone feeling the wear and tear of sitting all day, I liked these simple suggestions from the New York Times on relieving work-from-home pain. They also just launched a “Fresh Start Challenge,” for readers who want to establish a healthy new habit. I signed up and am excited to receive these prompts. A little support never hurts!

On a fun note, Avalon may have outdone itself with our most recent virtual gathering – a gadget themed happy hour. Our staff shared some of their weirdest and favorite gadgets, including a water bottle for dogs, a coffee cup warmer, and a dandelion weeder. The top honor for coolest gadget went to Data Manager Alice Murphy, who shared her friendship lamp. It changes color when the person who has another one that is paired touches theirs (no matter where they are in the world).

Happy Memorial Day! I hope you can enjoy a long weekend full of early summer fun. Be sure to check out the Avalon Spring Picnic Recipe Book for lawn party inspiration and to see what we will be eating. Thank you to Marketing VP Barb Perell, Marketing Associate Bianca Flores, and all the Avalon contributors for creating such a fun collection!

Take care,