FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 5.11.21


Dear friends,

I hope the weekend was a good one for you and your families. I am personally finding it hard to believe that we have reached mid-May! Part of me feels like we’re still living in 2020—a common sentiment, according to recent journalism on the psychology of post-pandemic life. I recommend both the Washington Post’s recent piece on travel anxiety, and the Atlantic’s article on post-vaccination inertia for perspective on these complicated feelings. We will get there!

I have also been watching the decision on Trump’s Facebook status with interest. While the temporary ban instituted on January 7 has been extended for six months, Facebook’s oversight board basically punted the decision. The company also faces criticism for emphasizing Trump’s incitement to violence on January 6 as the main driver for the ban. This fails to address misinformation around voting and election results, which, as you know, has far-reaching impact for democratic process and voting rights. I am watching closely to see how nonprofits respond in terms of both issue advocacy and their use of social media platforms.

For some encouraging news, the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s recent economic update is bullish. The indicators they cite as important for nonprofits are gross domestic product (+6.4% in Q1), stock market indexes (+5% in April for S&P and Nasdaq), unemployment (-0.2% in March), and consumer confidence (+2% in April). They also analyze the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report, which documents moderate-to-strong growth in key regional economies.

Here at Avalon, we are beginning to share our DEI findings from the past year. Our internal task force has launched a five-part blog series on DEI-informed fundraising, which will explore lists, messaging, data, hiring, and digital. Our first post explains the relation between list selection and diversity goals, including the limits of what lists alone can accomplish and the importance of broadly inclusive fundraising. I look forward to being in conversation with you around this, so please let me know what you think.

In leadership development, we are all working to hone our public speaking and Zoom presentation skills, and to check in with one another about burnout and overwhelm. I thought this HBR article made an important point about the ways we sometimes create more adversity for ourselves when we become overwhelmed. It helps to know that there are strategies to counteract these challenges.

We also continue to explore the many facets of creative thinking. SVP Margot O’Leary recently shared this fascinating story about Bette Nesmith Graham, a struggling single mom in the 1950s who invented Liquid Paper. Not only was she an inventor who built a multimillion-dollar business, but her company was quite progressive for the time. They offered on-site childcare, an employee-owned credit union, wheelchair-accessible facilities, tuition reimbursement, and affirmative action policies that supported a diverse staff. Even better, one thing Graham said reminds me of how nonprofits cultivate change:

“I find it’s such a marvelous period when you’ve been patient and stood your ground and one day you see that growth has been going on around you all the time. It’s like a plant that is rooted in the ground. For a long time, you don’t see much happening, but all the time the plant is developing a stronger root system that reaches out to farther places.”

An inspiring example!

Take care,