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Competition vs. Abundance

(Deacon) Larry A. Vaclavik, Managing Principal
November 6, 2013

At Dini Spheris, we are believers in the economics of abundance. We believe – and experience has taught us – that the philanthropic pie, that pool of available resources to fund the noblest missions – is anything but limited or shrinking.

This realization frees us and our clients from a perspective that is competitive, or win/lose. We don’t worry about other campaigns, what the other hospital or school is raising or the fact that donors have made contributions elsewhere. Every gift and every campaign suggests that, like an expanding universe, there is always room for another compelling project, bold vision or creative initiative.

The late Stephen Covey, in his classic 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, proposed Habit #4 to be “think win/win.” In the nonprofit world, this is the principle of abundance. Fundraising is not about winners and losers, but the continuing opportunities of success as institutions, their leaders and advancement teams see every instance of philanthropy as the opportunity for another gift, another program, another success.

This theory of unlimited abundance is based on a simple look at the wealth of any community and the fact that philanthropic giving is the result of a decision. When looking out the window at almost any city in America, you can visualize the staggering wealth of a community – the wealth held in land, corporations, financial institutions, earnings and investments. One only has to realize that the distance between that wealth and your cause is that of a decision. Then you can begin to consider the great opportunities before any institution with a strong mission, high performing programs and right relationships.

When people approach the economics of philanthropy from a perspective of competition, it immediately creates a defensive, yours/mine, win/lose frame of mind. At Dini Spheris, we believe in the economics of abundance, that the pool of philanthropic wealth is far greater than the needs of any community.