FYI Blog

Avalon Weekly Dispatch 8.04.20


Dear friends,

In recent weeks, images of John Lewis’s final crossing of Edmund Pettus Bridge and the many tributes to his life have been deeply impactful. An essay he wrote to be published on the day of his funeral concludes, “When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war.” What a moving call to action for all of us.

In other news, DC just logged its hottest July on record. In fact, the District’s four hottest July’s have occurred in the past decade, which is one of many data points that makes me appreciate the hard work of our colleagues in the environmental sector. Fortunately, there is some good policy news: the House passed The Great American Outdoors Act, which has been two decades in the making. The bill finances both much-needed maintenance in our national parks and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. In the words of National Parks Conservation Association president and CEO Theresa Pierno, “This bill is a conservationist’s dream.”

As you know, I have been sharing data around the pandemic impacts on 2020 fundraising, including my cautious optimism based on Q2 donation rates, acquisition metrics, and cash flow. That being said, NPR recently highlighted the sobering estimate that one third of U.S. museums may not survive the year, primarily due to the loss of museum visitors, and we know that performing arts organizations also face steep obstacles to the delivery of their missions. This makes me more determined than ever to support fundraising that keeps donors engaged and giving throughout the duration of this crisis. We often say that members are the life-blood of their organizations, and this really drives the point home.

In that spirit, it never hurts to show donors your appreciation! The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently shared some good advice on thanking donors during a crisis, which is important to follow.

For more best practice, The Agitator recently published a reminder that testing should not be a “fishing expedition.” Instead, test a hypothesis that works backwards from the behavior you want to influence.

Finally, with so much going on, it’s important that we take time to process. I don’t miss my 90-minute commute right now, but I do miss the built-in opportunity to think and reflect. If you are feeling this way too, you might find this HBR framework for reflection helpful. I particularly like its conclusion: “Without reflection, we drift. Others shape and direct us. With reflection, we can understand and even bend the trajectories of our lives.”

Take care,