In this week’s @AvalonFYI dispatch, you will find conference news, an update on social media and misinformation, client success, perspective on donor complaints, how to receive feedback, one GIANT pumpkin, and more. Read it here:
Happy Tuesday! Avalon is on the move this week with several interesting activities. Our digital team gathered in person for a planning retreat in DC, and I spent the weekend in board meetings. I’m the past chair of the board for my high school, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, and girls’ education is a passion of mine.
In addition, senior VP Jackie Libby and VP Dara Igersheim are presenting at theAmerican Museum Membership Conference along with our clients John Perell from the Smithsonian, David Saunders from the National Museum of the American Indian, and Kathleen Porter from The Trustees. Today, Dara, John, and Kathleen will speak on Removing Barriers to Giving in Direct Marketing, and, tomorrow, Jackie, John, and David will speak on Campaigns That Stay the Course. AMMC is a great event for learning and networking with museum colleagues, and this year’s attendees will also have an opportunity to visit The Museum of Fine Arts, The Houston Zoo, and the iconic Project Row Houses and Eldorado Ballroom.
In tech news, senior VP Jackie Libby shared an update on how social media companies are handling misinformation related to conflict in the Middle East. Fast Company reports that Twitter/X is “largely relying on Community Notes,” a feature that allows users to add context to posts. TikTok and Meta (Facebook and Instagram) have been more proactive, adding Arabic and Hebrew speakers to safety teams and making it easier for them to moderate and remove content. They are also taking measures to inform and protect users, such as adding opt-ins for graphic content and limiting certain hashtags. Avalon will continue to monitor new policies for fundraising impacts.
On a happy note, Avalon team members attended the Humane Rescue Alliance’s Annual Bark Ball last weekend. It isn’t every day that we can dress up in fancy clothes and play with dogs, so this was a truly special night. Thank you for hosting such a unique event and for your critical work for animals and the communities you serve!
L-R: Avalon’s Maria Croes, David Lothamer, Mary Meredith (with Brisbane), Rebecca Shapalis, Kathy Criser, and Kris Blanchette (with Lil’ Miss) celebrate with Lauren Sracic from the Humane Rescue Alliance.
We were also inspired by the National Parks Conservation Association’s new video,“Protecting Our Legacy,” which debuted recently at their New York gala. It does a great job of describing NPCA’s collaborative work to ensure that parks are both protected and inclusive of all American stories. We are so honored to support this mission.
In fundraising this week, VP Rebecca Shapalis recommended a short but sweet post by Future Fundraising Now on donor complaints. Author Jeff Brooks asserts that complaints are inevitable, so fundraisers should not allow the fear of them to weaken campaigns. Be sure to check the comment section, where a reader shares the value of receiving complaints graciously. These conversations can be difficult, but they do provide a point of connection and engagement with donors who care about your organization.
On a related note, senior director of human resources Melissa Ferrell shared advice on receiving difficult feedback. Experts at Chatsworth Consulting Group recommend the following steps: listen, feel, breathe, ask clarifying questions, take time to process, and thank the person offering the feedback. That last step is so important and often skipped! This is especially true for senior leaders who want to avoid working in an echo chamber.
For DC locals and visitors, the National Museum of Women in the Arts is reopening after a two-year hiatus for renovations, and I’m excited to see what they have done. The New York Times asked if a women’s museum is still relevant, and I appreciated museum director Susan Fisher Sterling’s data-backed perspective. Female-identified artists represented only 11 percent of U.S. acquisitions and 3 percent of global auction sales between 2008 – 2020:
People in the art world always think we’re achieving parity faster than we are. We’re not even close to there, if 89 percent of acquisitions are men’s work.
Finally, I love Fall and everything pumpkin, and Annapolis has been decorated with several HUGE pumpkins that are both beautiful and a fun celebration of the season. I enjoyed this story about a man in Johnston, Rhode Island and his prize-winning pumpkins. Steve Sperry not only grew this year’s largest pumpkin in New England, but he also broke a state record and achieved his personal best: 2,645 pounds. I’d love to have one of his seeds!