Rebecca Gregory Segovia, Executive Vice President
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them.” -Albert Einstein
No industry lives in the realm of possibility more than philanthropy. We devote our careers and lives to finding cures for diseases, providing education and opportunities for well-being, and transforming the world.
But most days, that vision seems more like a dream than a reality. We could all name a dozen challenges that stand in our way on a daily basis. The real problem is many organizations don’t stop and acknowledge the fact that they’re in “business as usual” mode. They’re so heads down that the vision gets blurred and the gets lost in the day-to-day.
So how can you change that way of thinking in your organization? Not just talk about doing things differently, but really alter the way you approach your every day—both on a small scale as an individual and on a large scale as an organization?
Transform the Collective Mindset Inside Your Organization
At Pursuant, we’ve worked with hundreds of nonprofit organizations over the years. Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned from them about how you can effectively transform your thinking and open up a world of new possibilities…
- Pause and reflect. Going beyond your current reality requires you to stop and think about the mindsets that have been getting in your way. In order to change your way of thinking, you have to think about your thinking. Are you open to new ideas? Do you take a “can do” or “can’t don’t” approach to challenges? Are you bringing passion, excitement, and innovation to your everyday work? If not—why?
- Work on the business, not in the business. What is your current reality? What are the key challenges facing your organization? What are the things your nonprofit does really well and the areas where you struggle? Too often nonprofit leaders adapt their thinking to fit within the constraints placed on the organization rather than applying a new way of thinking to eliminate those constraints.
- Ask bigger questions. As humans beings, we tend to talk ourselves down. We quickly toss ideas into the “impossible” bin, where they never have a chance to grow and flourish. We condition ourselves to think small. But nearly every big idea—from running water to that smartphone in your hand—came about because someone was bold enough to believe it was possible. Asking bigger questions is sometimes the simplest way to initiate breakthrough. It can lead to some truly amazing things for you and your team.
Ask yourself: What would it look like for our nonprofit to achieve that thing that seems impossible today? For example — What could we achieve if we raised $20 million instead of $10 million?
What would we need to do differently as an organization in order for that to be true? How would our team need to operate differently? What kind of leader to I need to be in order to make that change happen?
Lead Your Organization to Go Beyond
Leading your organization to achieve what only seems impossible begins with awareness and collaboration. You need to be open and honest about the limitations (real and imagined) holding your team back, and the desire to transform your organizational thinking to drive it forward to go beyond your current reality and achieve the impossible. .
Here’s what can begin to happen if you take the time to embrace the ideas above and shift the mindset of your organization…
- Alignment across the organization – Rather than working in silos, everyone works towards the same goal. When everyone rows in the same direction with the same cadence, you can go a lot farther, a lot quicker.
- Clarity & focus on achieving the impossible — There is no more muddling of the mission because everyone knows: This is what we are trying to achieve. My time, strength, and energy need to go here. Everything you invest in can be measured against this goal, and your donors will be inspired by seeing the clear and direct impact.
- Unstoppable momentum — At Pursuant, we’ve repeatedly seen breakthroughs completely transform organizations and teams for the long-term. The way your team approaches work is never the same once you introduce this kind of thinking.
As a leader, you’re always dreaming about what your organization could be. It’s time to turn those dreams into a reality. No one is positioned to help your organization go beyond your current reality to achieve the impossible better than you.
Initiating the process of working through these ideas with your team has the ability to transform not only your fundraising results — but your entire organization.