FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch: It’s a big week.


Dear friends,

I send you this letter on the Tuesday between Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration. It is quite the juxtaposition, especially this year. I hope you find meaningful ways to mark both occasions, along with everything they represent.

On an important fundraising note, Avalon is prepared to respond to emerging political events in the days ahead. Our teams have been hard at work assessing which campaigns will need flexibility as things unfold. We have planned proactively for different scenarios, including how each client can respond to riots or other violence. Also, we know how to stay in real-time communication with each other, and you. Meanwhile, I am praying for peace.

One thing I have been thinking a lot about is how King’s calls for justice, participation, and nonviolence are still absolutely essential. I know that many of you join me in wanting to respond authentically. For me, this means continuing to insist that Black Lives Matter in my personal and professional spaces. It means that I will keep reading and listening to diverse voices, so I better understand the issues. And it means leading Avalon in the DEI work that will help us more fully live up to our ideals as a company, and as an advocate for the nonprofit sector.

To that end, let me make one more plug for TNPA’s Essential Leadership Lab, which begins January 27th and will address DEI accountability. I echo this call to action from Tycely Williams, CDO at America’s Promise and Board Chair for TNPA Foundation: “We invite you to journey with us in 2021 to design educational resources to combat systemic racism, to foster new accountability measurements for White dominant work cultures, and to establish an internship and support program to attract racially and culturally diverse talent to the not-for-profit industry.”

Continued unrest in the middle of an escalating pandemic further reinforces the need for self-care.  Kerri and I are encouraging the Avalon team to be proactive around this, and in particular to schedule first quarter vacations. Fast Company reminds us that it’s important to take time off because you’ve earned it, and it is critical to preventing burnout.  Business Insider has some great suggestions for creative alternatives, and please know that your boss wants you to take a vacation.

In addition, because Avalon will work remotely for the foreseeable future, I continue to emphasize remote engagement and collaboration. I wrote about this recently for DMAW Advents, and, in the process, I gained an even deeper understanding of what we can expect for the long term. For some of this data, and to hear about what is working for Avalon, please check out my article.

For more ideas, my colleague and TNPA committee member Kyla Shawyer posted this great reflection exercise to use with your teams, or even just by yourself.  Avalon VP Dara Igersheim shared a helpful article on the importance of remembering to eat when you’re working from home. Also, Kerri shared this information on the health value of house plants (including how to make selections that won’t harm your children or pets).

I hope everyone can enjoy the moment tomorrow. Biden’s swearing-in marks the end of Trump’s presidency, a period of incredible challenge and resistance. Constructively, it marks the restoration of competence and public service in the executive branch. And America is long overdue to celebrate the many firsts that Kamala Harris will achieve as Vice President! In spite of everything going on, and the reality that deep challenges persist, I also feel excited and proud. Here are some fun ideas for food, drink, and virtual celebration from the Washington Post.

Take care,