FYI Blog

Avalon Weekly Dispatch 8.25.20


Dear friends,

Last week’s DNC convention gave me fresh optimism as we move towards the election. The unorthodox format was fascinating to watch and delightfully representative of America’s diversity. Not only was it great to see this, but the party’s unity was also wonderful to experience.

Election drama continues with the postal service, but experts assure us that the USPS is stable. Industry veteran Greg Adams shared this analysis: “Considering there are about 150 million voters TOTAL, and maybe half or 3/4ths of them may vote by mail, the USPS can surely handle 75-112 million absentee ballots over several weeks when the USPS processes, on average, 181 million first class mailings a DAY … and the USPS handles 2.5 BILLION first class pieces during their peak week in mid-December.” In addition, our production partners’ mail trackers are not setting off any alarms.

That being said, we do expect more volume in upcoming months. Avalon teams have adjusted schedules to anticipate this, and we will continue to watch the mail trackers. It will also be important to complement mail with strategic digital communications and to leverage every opportunity for e-appends and list-building.

In other news, the S&P 500 index recently hit a record high. This means that investors are bullish on the economy’s 12- to 18-month outlook (and they anticipate a vaccine). It’s a hopeful sign for fundraising, as the index typically correlates with strong donation rates, particularly at $1000+ levels. However, it mostly reflects the growth of a few giants, rather than a thriving economy for all. We still have a long way to go towards meaningful recovery.

Along those lines, this HBR analysis of the Stockdale paradox and survival psychology offers insight for leaders in the COVID crisis. While somewhat sobering, I appreciate the author’s description of moving into phases of adaptation and consolidation as we shift from short-term to long-term crisis management. And I particularly like this explanation of why we’re all so exhausted:

Part of the exhaustion common now is that our intrinsic survival mechanisms—such basic behaviors as how to enter a building, or bring in the mail, or greet a friend—require conscious thought in a way they have not since toddlerhood. The services and businesses that facilitated our lives—childcare, dry cleaning, the coffee shop on the way to work, gyms, housecleaners—are shuttered or more difficult to access. Masks must be found and worn and cleaned. Simple conversations require managing new technologies and protocols. Even walking down the street requires a level of hypervigilance not required in even the most dangerous neighborhood.

I hope you all find ways to tap into your survival instincts this week! Here is a glimpse of Avalon doing exactly that in our home offices. And, if survival for you includes a socially distanced glass of wine, on weekends the Kennedy Center hosts an outdoor, pop-up bar and café in Victura Park at the REACH. It looks beautiful.


Take care,