Get out of the scarcity cycle

Apr 7, 2015

At this point in time it seems like the scarcity mindset is rife in the NFP sector. Where has this “the sky is falling”, “not enough” and “survival mode” mentality come from? And at what cost to the people we are professing to serve?

We are being constantly fed information and figures that there is or will be an increase in mergers and acquisitions, that the small are going to or are being consumed by the large, and that in order for an organisation to survive we must go mega, one-stop-shop variety.

Yet, we are also being informed that the figures also show a massive growth in the population of people requiring services, and the increase in the numbers of people who will be able to receive supports as a result of funding reforms.

So how is it then, that we have allowed ourselves to believe that there is not enough dollars and not enough clients and not enough room in the market for variety and choice? That we need to become a one-size fits all that caters for peoples every need from babe to grave to survive?

Do we really think that we can best serve our most vulnerable people in the community through this type of thinking? And if so, at what cost?

Lets be honest, the scarcity mindset is not new to the NFP sector. Go to any workshop or consultation and the number one response to the question about what we most need the answer is always “more funding”. This has never changed.

And yes, more funding and resources would make a massive difference to the work we are able to do, Im not arguing that. What I am saying, is that as a sector we know that the dollars are limited, we have worked with limited dollars for hundreds of years, yet as a sector we continue to grow, and the capacity of communities continues to surprise.

The driver of all this scarcity and fear is CHANGE. The fear of the unknown, of unchartered waters, of losing what we already have, of losing our jobs, of not surviving. This fear is driving the sector into a focus on scarcity, and driving the decisions it makes. We are walking into what we are told is going to happen, and maybe its because we choose to believe it.

I choose to shift my mindset away from fear and scarcity into seeing the abundance that comes with major change.

In changing times there is an abundance of opportunity. The chance to dream a little differently, to be innovative, to challenge the status quo, to stand out for being different, unique, to being the ‘alternative’ solution when the status quo and sameness doesn’t work for people.

So, I choose not to race to the bottom of sameness with the crowd getting stuck in trying to be the cheapest, largest, most mediocre of them all. NO. Instead I choose to stand up for what I believe in. To hold true to the values that led me to working in community and not for profit. I choose to see the unique opportunities to make a real difference. Its not about keeping my job, or saving my service, or being the largest or smallest. Its about how can I best serve and make a difference in the life of those I say I am here to serve.

When we lead our organisations from that space – where our values take charge, and we focus on opportunity – the results for our organisations, our people, and our communities are richer, more sustainable, and make a real and lasting impact. It is then that we allow for diversity, variety and choice in the ‘market place’ (aka the sector).