FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 07.27.2021


Dear friends,

Following a great Bridge Conference (thank you to everyone who made it such an incredible event!), we are continuing professional development internally at Avalon. This includes Unconscious Bias and Cultural Humility Training with our DEI consultant Jaye Holly and Interview Training with Melissa Ferrell of the HR Team. These topics are closely related and essential to our DEI work, especially as we grow our team. (On a fun note, we also hosted a mixology class with Pratt Standard for team building!)


Cocktails and mocktails with Ashley Capdeboscq from Pratt Standard.


The big news in direct mail is that the Postal Regulatory Commission has formally approved the rate increases that the USPS announced in May. The NonProfit Times reports an average expected increase of 7.8% for nonprofits, but that number will vary by organization and mail type. The Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers is tracking a legal appeal, but for now we will proceed with strategies to mitigate impact. A key component of this will be to follow the data in assessing the ROI of first-class postage techniques. Increases are set to take effect on August 29.

In other news, Avalon marketing VP Barb Perell recently shared an interesting article from Behavioral Scientist on the value of subtraction for problem-solving. She pointed out the concept’s resonance with what fundraisers know about cutting the first paragraph of copy or eliminating unproductive segments, not to mention the huge subtraction of commuting from our daily lives! The author talks about the value of subtraction and embeds a helpful video on why it can be a challenge to think this way.

 Less is More: Why Our Brains Struggle to Subtract.


We also enjoyed this Smithsonian Magazine article on how the video game Oregon Trail found its way into so many classrooms during the 1980s.  The combination of newly developed, educator-approved games and Steve Jobs’s bulldog advocacy for computers in classrooms helped to launch the game and the Apple IIC into American education on a fast track. I also recommend that you check out When Rivers Were Trails, an award-winning adaptation of the game, which centers Indigenous experiences by introducing “an Anishinaabeg person trekking from Minnesota to California after being forced from their land.”

Also in digital engagement, the JFK Library’s virtual jigsaw puzzle is a fun and creative device. The finished puzzle is a picture of Victura, Kennedy’s family boat, which he sailed for over three decades. As a Massachusetts and an Annapolis girl, I also enjoy sailing and share this sentiment:

From my first race on Nantucket Sound many years ago to my most recent outing as a weekend sailor, sailing has given me some of the most pleasant and exciting moments of my life. — John F. Kennedy, April 3, 1963  

Finally, the Kennedy Center recently announced their list of the 44th Kennedy Center Honors lifetime achievement honorees: Justino Díaz, Berry Gordy, Lorne Michaels, Bette Midler, and Joni Mitchell. I am always excited for this event, but I was especially delighted to read this comment from Kennedy Center president Deborah F. Rutter:

After the challenges and heartbreak of the last many months, and as we celebrate 50 years of the Kennedy Center, I dare add that we are prepared to throw ‘the party to end all parties’ in D.C. on December 5th, feting these extraordinary people and welcoming audiences back to our campus.  

Count me in!

Take care,