FYI Blog

Avalon Weekly Dispatch 9.22.20


Dear friends,

Like you, I was heartbroken to hear the news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last Friday. So much has been written, but I was most moved by her own words, published by the New York Times in October 2016.  RBG was an icon for good reason and a fierce balance of power. But most importantly, she was a role model for women everywhere. As we grieve her passing, we can be grateful for all she has done, and then be ready to fight hard to uphold everything she stood for. #ruthless

Photo by Ted Eytan 

Last week was also challenging for climate reasons. Fires continued to burn in the west, Portland recorded the worst air quality in the world, and smoke created a high-level haze over DC. Meanwhile, five cyclones were in the Atlantic for only the second time in history. This extra layer of ecological stress can feel like too much. However, I resist climate defeatism and agree with this New Yorker viewpoint that hope can be found in the environmental leadership of young people.

For fundraisers working on behalf of these and other issues we care about, I have some good news. Kate Beaver, Avalon’s Director of Client Reporting, runs a monthly summary of our clients’ acquisition activity, which I review for trends. With her most recent update, June campaigns are considered final – and the results are outstanding. Response rates AND average gifts continue to exceed budget, which generates higher net per donor across the board. Every client, every sector. Way to go!

On the postal front, the NYT recently partnered with SnailWorks to investigate USPS delivery, and they determined that first class mail has slowed. However, they did not address nonprofit mail, which by all industry reports has not seen meaningful delays. Dave Lewis, president of SnailWorks, concludes, “While it doesn’t show everything is wonderful, it shows everything is at least OK.” We will continue to follow this closely and adjust campaign schedules as needed.

I hope you were able to join last week’s TNPA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) webinar, “Leading By Example.” The panelists from AARP, Feeding America, the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, and Defenders of Wildlife were excellent. They covered a ton of ground, including the challenges of recruiting people to your DEI task force, how to improve your goals of hiring for more diversity, how to ensure accountability and diligence as an organization, and much more. If you missed it, I recommend listening to the recording.

Another pressing leadership issue is working parents’ transition to a new work-from-home/school-from-home dynamic. I am constantly scanning for substantive ways to support parents at Avalon, and I like this round-up of options for employers.

I hope you all have a good week, and that you find ways to sustain your energy as we take on another season in the 2020 obstacle course. We are probably all familiar with these healthy energy-boosting strategies from the Harvard Medical School blog, but a reminder can’t hurt.


Take care,