Picking out a watermelon in July, or a pumpkin in October, or a Christmas tree in December, can teach us a lot about abundance. When something is in season, and the market is flooded with high quality specimens, it’s natural to become even more selective. We search for the very best, the watermelon that sounds just right when you knock on it, the tree that’s perfectly symmetrical all the way around. Abundance sharpens our senses, increases our appetite, and encourages us to never settle for less than the best!
How can we bring this sense of abundance into our nonprofit workplaces? Scarcity is a reality for every organization, including for-profit businesses. There’s always not enough time, not enough resources, and not enough focus to attend to all the demands of running an organization, but that doesn’t mean we need to exist in a culture of scarcity. Here are some ideas for reframing our experience and acknowledging our abundance.
Opportunities are abundant! Very few nonprofits are fully able to exploit all of their opportunities. Whether those opportunities are in-person meetings with donors, or more sophisticated email marketing efforts, many nonprofits have ROI-positive opportunities they’re not maximizing. Rather than focusing on the resource limitations that hold us back from taking advantage of every opportunity, we should refocus on evaluating each opportunity for its potential. Knock on every one of those and make sure it’s got exactly the right sound. Don’t spend time on low-ROI efforts when there is such an abundance of high-return opportunities out there!
Outcomes are abundant! If the last twenty years of the communications revolution have taught us anything, it’s that we are defined by the stories we share. Working in the public benefit space, we are privileged to be part of incredible stories of hope, courage, compassion and humanity. Sometimes though, we get lost in the paperwork and the processes, or in the grind of fundraising and grant reporting, and we forget to reflect on our outcomes. Collecting stories of impact and sharing them internally is just as important as sharing them externally. Defining and reporting consistently on a couple of big-picture metrics can help remind us of all the great things our organizations help make possible.
Support is abundant! Raising money is hard, and nonprofits all struggle with financial challenges. But nonprofits are ultimately about galvanizing communities around a cause. There are so many different kinds of contributions that people can make to a cause, and for a cause to truly advance it needs more than money. It needs advocates, political support, friends, volunteers, and well-wishers. More than anything, when you’re feeling down and overwhelmed, turn to your community and ask for help. You’ll find a deep well of support in your community that may surprise you, and will surely elevate you.
Clay Shirky famously explained that abundance is far more disruptive than scarcity, because when a resource is abundant, we can experiment more freely with it. Are there some low-cost opportunities your organization can try and tap? For example, is your donation page mobile-friendly? Can you accept recurring donations? You certainly have many stories to tell, can you experiment by telling them in more places? And don’t forget experiment with support. The best way to overcome a culture of scarcity is to surround yourself in a giving and supportive community
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