FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 11.10.20

Dear friends,

I am delighted to be writing the celebratory version of this letter, after a tense week and cathartic weekend – complete with (masked!) dancing in the streets for the Biden/Harris victory. Though I had hoped for a stronger rebuke of Trump’s chaos and bigotry, a tremendous wave of relief washed over me when the networks began calling the election.

The biggest winner of the election is democracy: with over 145M votes cast, we saw an unprecedented number of citizens engaged in the democratic process. And I am THRILLED that Kamala Harris is breaking so many barriers – for women, for Black women and people of color, and for Asian Americans.  For this moment, the American promise feels possible.

Celebrating the presidential election results on Black Lives Matter Plaza.

Now, like Joe and Kamala, we get back to work. In light of the past four years, 2020’s toll, and the highly emotional week we just experienced, that may understandably feel difficult. This article from Fast Company does a good job explaining our mental fatigue and reiterating how to cope.

Another thing that helps me is to lean into supporting the nonprofit sector. In that spirit, these two articles from Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) recently caught my attention:

First, check out this article on what NGOs can learn from the private sector about sustainable recurring revenue, including the idea that memberships are a great tool to strengthen loyalty. Fundraisers have always known this, of course. As one commenter points out, “Might the authors be reminded that the original NGOs were ‘membership organizations’ where that first word clearly referred to payment for member services? Or that the largest NGOs today are membership based?” Still, it is interesting to see how some consultants view our industry ­– and an empowering reminder that we are great at what we do.

Second, and more helpfully, Allison Fine and Beth Kanter recently wrote a piece in SSIR about how AI can rehumanize fundraising. Their article includes some great case studies and recommendations for Development teams, including one best practice that the Avalon Analytics dashboard makes easy. I’ll bet you guess which one!

Shifting the lens to how we work, this year video conferencing has become an essential skill. I was pleased to see that Zoom recently announced new features, including fun stuff like new wallpapers, and more robust enhancements like end-to-end encryption. Fundraisers should take particular note of OnZoom, their new event platform, which enables both ticket sales and native donations.

Finally, I enjoyed reading this article from HBS Working Knowledge on how kindness is a powerful leadership strategy. The article cites some interesting research and suggests practices to strengthen this muscle at work. Citing Psychology Today, the authors tell us that kind bosses “have been shown to increase morale, decrease absenteeism and retain employees longer. [They] may even prolong the lives of their employees by decreasing their stress levels which improves cardiovascular health.” Wow.

Have a great week, everyone! If you’re looking for something fun to do and don’t mind bundling up, Thrillist has an updated round-up of fall-friendly outdoor dining in DC.

Take care,