Making a Bigger Pie: Keeping the Work Positive:: Think Scarcity—Get Nothing, Think Abundance—Get Gifts

Making a Bigger Pie: Keeping the Work Positive:: Think Scarcity—Get Nothing, Think Abundance—Get Gifts

Are you tired of all the doom and gloom? Failing banks and corporations, increasing unemployment—and that is just the economy—what about all those threats against our precious water resources. Seriously, even for us optimists, this can be a challenging time.

We know that many of you in Freshwater Future’s family are concerned about fundraising in these economic times. In this article we want to provide some basic tips to help you use positivity to keep your work moving forward. We want to help you envision a larger pie (more resources for everyone). Finally, we want to discourage fear and grasping and replace it with courage and remind us of the pleasures of sharing.

You already know if you tend to be an optimist or a pessimist. Although thinking optimistically doesn’t change reality, it does change how we handle stressful times, and increases our ability to seize opportunities. In Learning Optimism, Martin Seligman, PhD, defines optimism as a place where setbacks can be handled through personal power whereas pessimists see setbacks from a place of helplessness. We aren’t advocating that positive thinking and optimism can change the economic realities but it can alter our perspective and improve our ability to react. The reality of today is that our economy is not stable. Things have changed and when it comes to fundraising for our organizations we are not sure how our donors will respond to the changing economic conditions. But talking optimistically about your work helps them decide.

One reality that hasn’t changed is that the only way to generate revenue for our organizations is to do the fundraising. Just because the economy is in flux, we can’t stop fundraising. “Most people’s instinct is to cut expenses rather than raise money, resist this impulse as much as possible,” shares Kim Klein a leading fundraising consultant in Fundraising in Times of Crisis. Now it is even more important to communicate with your donors and contributors to let them know how important your work is and share how important their financial support is to continue that success. Always critical is to remember to thank your donors with thank you notes, recognition in publications, and phone calls.

Individual contributions to charities have increased annually since the 1930s (source, Andy Robinson). In reality, the pie gets bigger just about every year. In fact, more challenging economic times can encourage more generous giving to respond to the increased need.

We should not have fear that other groups and organizations will take donors or contributions away from us. Rather, this might be the best time to find ways to collaborate with others on joint fundraisers. For one idea see our Great Lakes Walk, Paddle, and Roll on page 8 or on our website Now is the time to start practicing and learning optimism and envision that your organization’s piece of the pie will be big enough to support your work. Optimism paired with effort will generate results—helping you to protect that special lake, river, or wetland in your community.

This column is meant to provide inspiration, hope, and affirmation that the work you do is important. We would appreciate feedback—please let us know if the information we provided was helpful or other comments.



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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.