FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 09.14.2021

Dear friends,

Last week I wrapped up TNPA’s Essential Leadership Lab (Part 2) and several weeks of conversations with an incredible group of my fellow fundraising leaders. The topic was RESILIENCE, and this week I’m still thinking about how fundraisers can be resilient through so many crises. The lab’s next cycle—on partnerships and strategic alliances—starts tomorrow. It’s a great experience!

Also on the theme of resilience, Elizabeth Bernstein at the Wall Street Journal shares this blunt recommendation from her Uncle Sidney, a retired U.S. Navy physician and Vietnam veteran: “Embrace the Suck.” Psychologists call Uncle Sidney’s strategy acceptance, which means embracing reality and all our emotions around it. I like this because it is honest to the situation.

Avalon COO Kerri Kerr recommends Lindsey Antin’s advice on “stumbling into the next stage of your pandemic life.” Antin, a therapist, explains the stress of returning to normal activities, especially as the pandemic continues. She also sees an opportunity:

You can feel the strange optimism that comes from living through a disaster: glad to be alive for a new chapter, aware of the cracks in the system and your life and the opportunity to work on them, as overwhelming as they may be.

SVP Margot O’Leary suggests organizational psychologist Adam Grant’s latest TED Talk: How to Stop Languishing and Start Finding Flow. Grant highlights three ingredients for making this happen: mastery (a sense of making progress), mindfulness (focusing attention), and mattering (making a difference to other people). As a side note, I love that Grant’s research includes a study on fundraising callers!

On the virtual front, Seth Godin blogged last week about the value of intentional connection in the digital office. He argues that digital connection isn’t less meaningful; it simply requires effort. In fact, digital connection helps to solve some problems embedded in in-person work:

The real magic of connections at the office was that we were having these connections without trying. It’s not that they were better, it’s that they were effortless.

But they didn’t work for everyone in the same way. They often reinforced status roles and privilege. They were unevenly distributed and didn’t usually appear when we needed them. All of which added up to a new layer of stress for many people.

No, we’re not sharing donuts. But if we put in the effort, we can share more than that.

In tech news, Zoom has partnered with the fundraising platform Pledge to provide nonprofits the ability to add a donate button to their events. The Donations by Pledge app will be free to all Zoom users. You can learn more and install the app here.

Finally, I have a fun update from the Avalon team. Our most recent virtual gathering featured a tango demonstration by Avalon controller Kristina Deutsch and her dance partner, Anthony Ware. It was so inspiring to watch them, to see Kristina’s home studio, and to have her share her personal passion with all of us.

A tango demonstration by Avalon controller Kristina Deutsch and her dance partner, Anthony Ware.
Take care,


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