September 10, 2013

Fixing Our World and the Myth of Scarcity.


When your mind and heart are truly open abundance will flow to you effortlessly and easily.

by Jennifer McCrea and Jeffrey C. Walker authors of the book The Generosity Network

There are millions of us who devote our time to fund-raising on behalf of worthwhile social causes—some as professionals, others as volunteers working in support of local churches, PTAs, scout troops, and other organizations. Whatever our status, this work is vitally important. And to do it effectively, it’s crucial to understand what that work is—and what it isn’t.

We often hear our work defined as “harnessing resources.” This definition isn’t a bad starting point. At least it broadens the conversation beyond money to include the entire range of resources that our organizations need to thrive and grow. But the concept of “harnessing resources” makes it sound as though the resources required are limited, hard to acquire, and eager to escape—like wild mustangs that resist being tamed.

In reality, the resources we need to drive our world-changing work are abundant; when they are connected through human networks that link the individual passions of dozens or hundreds or thousands of people, they can be leveraged and magnified until their power is virtually immeasurable.

So if you think in terms of “harnessing resources,” you are trapped in a perspective that is shortsighted and inaccurate. Instead, we urge you to think in terms of unleashing resources—multiple forms of energy that are just waiting to be freed.

Here’s the all-important secret: people want to make a difference. They want to channel their time, energy, creativity, and, yes, their money toward worthwhile causes that will enrich, lend meaning to, and transform the world and their own lives. So resources will tend to flow naturally toward you when you focus on the most important aspect of the fund-raising process: creating human connections.

Many fund-raisers hesitate to embrace this secret because they’re hamstrung by the false belief that money is a scarce commodity. Let that one go.

Yes, it’s true that we live in a time of economic uncertainty, that the global recession of 2008–9 has been followed by a recovery that still remains slow and fitful. But the fact remains that nonprofit organizations today have access to an incredibly vast pool of financial resources, real and potential.

Did you know that during the first half of the twenty-first century, individuals are expected to contribute to private foundations more than ten times the amount of money they contributed in the preceding one hundred years combined?
Did you know that, during 2011 alone (the last year for which data are available), Americans donated $298.4 billion to nonprofit organizations?

Did you know that the baby boom generation—today’s middle-aged adults, often described as “cash-strapped” and unprepared for retirement—are projected to receive $8.4 trillion in inheritance monies from parents and grandparents, and that when lifetime gifts are included, the total intergenerational transfer expected balloons to $11.6 trillion?

There is plenty of wealth in our society, much of it eagerly seeking a positive outlet—like water from a mountain ice melt, naturally drawn by gravity toward the channels that will let it flow downhill.

The same is true about other resources: time, networks, creativity, ideas, passion—there’s plenty of all of them out there. For example, during 2009, volunteers in the United States alone contributed a total of 15 billion hours of their time to nonprofit organizations, worth $279 billion at average wages.

There’s no shortage of resources. The doctrine of scarcity fosters an attitude of anxiety, fear, and needless competitiveness among nonprofit managers and partners. So not only is it inaccurate, it’s also harmful. Let’s jettison it—and get started on the joyful, positive work of allowing those resources to flow where they want to go—toward making our world a richer, freer, healthier, happier place.

Write Your Comment

  1. María Luisa Lorenzo

    Cuando estás conectado a través de redes humanas que unen las pasiones individuales de decenas o cientos de miles de personas, se aprovecha y magnifica hasta que su poder es prácticamente incalculable. Deepak Chopra. Gracias !!!

  2. S h i f t - H a p p e n s


  3. Kathleen Reimer

    hmmm Arnold, every single one of your words seem ego based...maybe it would help to give yourself the "luck"

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