Find the latest on consumer confidence, global giving, endowments, AI, overcoming negativity, and more—all in this week’s @AvalonFYI dispatch. Read it here!
Happy November! It’s a busy month and a critical fundraising window. Our entire industry is going the extra mile. Fortunately, November has built-in breaks, starting this week: Avalon will be closed today (Tuesday, November 7) for Election Day and Friday, November 10 for Veterans Day. Your teams are prepared, and all work is on schedule.
In economic news, U.S. consumer confidencedropped in October for the third consecutive month. Experts cite rising prices, higher interest rates, and war as major factors. The decline is not ideal, but it is unsurprising. On a more optimistic note, economists point out variation across demographics and hope an end to the auto workers’ strike will strengthen confidence in November.
In the nonprofit sector, senior VP Jackie Libby shared an interesting item on The Nature Conservancy’s endowment strategy. Specifically, it has evolved to focus on opportunities that deliver both financial returns and climate impact. This has included divesting from bad-fit funds, aligning investments with mission, bringing endowment management in-house, and, most recently, investment in climate startups that TNC is uniquely positioned to support. According to TNC’s vice president and chief investment officer Bola Olusanya, the approach is a win-win:
It became clear to me that we had an opportunity to not just invest in funds but leverage the TNC brand and the TNC science to invest in a select few of those companies that we believe have gigaton scale from a decarbonization standpoint, but also outsized expected return.
Jackie also shared news of a game-changing development in AI. Debuting at last month’s AI Engineer Summit, the “wild” plug-in rearranges websites to reflect individual preferences. Creator Amelia Wattenberger describes the tool as a giant step “towards personalizing, customizing, and democratizing websites and interfaces.” It’s an exciting project that, if successful, could make the web more accessible and transform techniques like lightboxes, landing pages, and donation buttons. Avalon Digital is watching closely!
Turning to data, the GivingTuesday Data Commons’ 2022 Lookback Report is an ambitious survey of global trends. The authors confirm the decline in U.S. donations and donors, and they emphasize the connection between donor diversity and nonprofit resilience. They also find that global generosity is strong: 84% of people worldwide gave in 2022. 56% of people gave 3 or more kinds of gifts (money, belongings, time, and/or voices). And 57% gave to all 3 recipient types (formal charities, informal groups, and individuals). I appreciate this hopeful message:
Our data consistently shows that people are fundamentally generous and that globally the majority of people choose to give.
On a mental health note, senior director of HR Melissa Ferrell shared a helpful post on cognitive reframing—a strategy that can disrupt negativity bias and looping thoughts like blaming, catastrophizing, and overgeneralizing. I particularly like the suggestion to brainstorm opportunities that could arise from a crisis or problem you are facing. And I love this example of reframing from record producer Quincy Jones: “I don’t have problems. I have puzzles….I can solve a puzzle. A problem just stresses me out.”
Finally, one of Avalon’s favorite holiday traditions is to participate in Farm Sanctuary’sAdopt a Turkey campaign. This year, we are pleased to adopt three flocks. I always love reading about the featured turkeys and their personalities. Happy Thanksgiving to Celeborn “The Protector,” Thelma “The Tender Heart,” Arendelle “The Cuddle Bug,” Tutu “The Charmer,” and Lizzie “The Free Spirit”!