FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 09.12.2023

In this week’s @AvalonFYI dispatch, you will find climate data, acquisition trends, active listening, arts teachers, Panda Palooza, and more. Read it here!

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Dear friends,

Last week was a hot one. I hope you all weathered the heat safely, and that perfect fall days are just around the corner. It is sobering to experience such extreme weather. To understand the issues better, I have been reading about the uneven impact of climate change. I appreciated this perspective from Anti-Racism Daily:

In a deeply unequal world, a global crisis has wildly uneven effects. A rising tide may lift all boats, but those closest to the shore drown first. There are some for whom climate catastrophe is a cause for hand-wringing concern about their hypothetical grandchildren’s living standards. There are others for whom the crisis arrived years ago.

The heat wave coincided with new analysis from The Washington Post on the impact of climate change on human health. Some of the projections—such as the number of people who will be exposed to extreme heat in 2030 (500 million) and 2050 (1.3 billion)—are staggering. In addition, the numbers underscore the uneven distribution of negative effects. However, I am encouraged to see climate data used as a powerful tool for advocacy. (Avalon Analytics approves this strategy!)

In our industry, Names in the News released an updated Acquisition Advisor, which covers 2022 and 2023 Q1. I was excited to learn that response rates held steady in the first quarter of 2023, after declining in 2021 and 2022. As Names in the News points out, one quarter’s data is not enough to declare a trend, so it is important to continue tracking. Looking ahead, I am eager to learn how this fall’s campaigns will perform—and whether the rest of 2023 will continue the Q1 pattern.

Tomorrow, The Nonprofit Alliance (TNPA) kicks off a new cycle of the 2023 Essential Leadership Lab. During the four-month cycle, cohort members will learn about and discuss the opportunities, responsibilities, and ethics of AI. In addition, I am excited to attend TNPA’s Leadership Summit, which will take place September 19 – 21 in Washington, DC. It’s a great conference for senior leaders, and I always leave feeling motivated and inspired. Please say hello if you attend!

In client news, the Kennedy Center launched an incredible Thank an Arts Teacher campaign. The storytelling and gratitude wall are an inspired way to deepen engagement and connect their audience to their mission. The Kennedy Center is also collaborating with AMC Theatres and Ariana DeBose on a September public service announcement to thank arts teachers. If you have a connection to the arts and would like to share your story, please add your voice. SVP Jackie Libby is leading the way:

Jackie's message of thanks to her late violin teacher, Alan Mason.

For leadership growth, senior director of HR Melissa Ferrell recommended a helpful 101 on active listening. Here is author David Burkus’ recipe for success: (1) receive with your full attention, (2) show appreciation, (3) summarize to confirm understanding, and (4) ask open-ended questions. “Avoid jumping to advice-giving and instead focus on understanding the speaker’s perspective.”

Finally, mark your calendars for Panda Palooza at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Sadly, this event is a goodbye party for the Zoo’s three giant pandas, who will return to China by early December. However, it is also a celebration of these incredible animals and the Zoo’s impact on conservation:

The Smithsonian’s work to understand reproduction increased the likelihood of pregnancies in giant pandas under human care and has served as a model for the management of other rare and endangered species. Breeding and veterinary research on Mei Xiang and Tian Tian has provided critical data for managing and growing healthy populations of this species in human care and valuable insights for the conservation of wild populations.

Visitors can attend Panda Palooza in person September 23 – October 1 (free passes required). Online, you can share panda stories and say goodbye via Panda Cam. Tian Tian, Mei Xiang, and Xiao Qi Ji, we will miss you!

Take care,


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