This week in the @AvalonFYI dispatch, you will find SCOTUS, AI and authenticity, community-centric fundraising, stress relief, and a new favorite at Avalon—virtual drag bingo! Read it here:
I hope you had a great long weekend and a happy Fourth of July!
As expected, last week was a flurry of Supreme Court rulings, with big ups and downs. The court’s decision to reject “independent state legislature theory” was a huge relief. However, rulings on affirmative action, LGBTQ+ discrimination, student loans, and climate were alarming setbacks. In addition to the challenge of a strong conservative bloc, emerging ethical concerns cast a shadow. The Washington Post has a helpful tracker for this session’s major decisions.
For more on SCOTUS, Brennan Center for Justice president Michael Waldman has published a new book: The Supermajority: How the Supreme Court Divided America. It analyzes the court’s 2022-2023 term, including landmark decisions like Dobbs, Bruen, and West Virginia v. EPA. Along the way, Waldman explains “how the court has gained so much power over Americans’ lives with so little connection to the public will.” In addition to leading the Brennan Center, Waldman is a constitutional lawyer and writer and was White House director of speechwriting for Bill Clinton.
To mark the June 24th anniversary of Dobbs, Kelly Baden and Isabel Guarnieri of Guttmacher Institute published an article in Harvard Public Health Magazine, with recommendations for policymakers, one-year post-Roe. In addition, Baden and Jennifer Driver of State Innovation Exchange wrote a guide on the state abortion policy landscape, and, on June 29, Guttmacher hosted a panel on US and global abortion rights. Thank you for this important work!
In other news, I was dismayed to read in the New York Times how political campaigns are using AI for fundraising. While I’m on board with using AI as a tool for process efficiency, Avalon will always stand for integrity and authenticity in fundraising. This is essential for donor trust and therefore impacts the future of philanthropy. Caution is especially important where AI could reinforce harmful stereotypes and biases.
According to senior copywriter and director of communications operations Maria Croes, AI was a hot topic at last week’s DMAW 2023 Creative Day. The conference included a panel on AI that covered “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of AI-based content. In addition, Maria shared insights from the DEI Inclusive Creative and Messaging session, which emphasized principles of community-centric fundraising. The speakers’ recommendations align well with the work we are doing through Avalon’s Choice Points Initiative:
On a wellness note, COO Kerri Kerr shared advice from Fast Company on reducing stress and anxiety at work. They recommend the three Ws: walking, water, and windows. Most of all, they emphasize the importance of taking breaks. It can be hard to prioritize this on a busy day, but it remains essential. Fortunately, even micro-breaks can make a difference: “It takes just 90 seconds for stress or anxiety hormones to flood and clear the body.”
Finally, B4 I sign off, thank you to our virtual gathering committee and to our host, ChaCha, for putting on an incredible afternoon of Drag Bingo last Friday. This event was so fun and was the perfect way to wrap up Pride month 2023. Congratulations to all the Avalon winners: Nova Cohen-Prohow, Alexis Krivian, Kathy Criser, Sara Swisher, Margot O’Leary, Madison Schwarz, Rachel Moore, Sarah Birnie, and Will Griffiths. I’ll see you next year at the rematch!