A student at a nonprofit school of management told me that they are learning a lot about how to operate under conditions of scarcity – because that’s what the nonprofit sector is like.

The catch is that if you start with the notion of scarcity and how to cope with it, that’s your mindset.  Money is scarce, it’s a zero sum game, you see constraints all around you.   You’re being taught to operate within a broken system.

Let’s break this system (that includes the schools with this mindset).  Let’s reinforce in our students a mindset of abundance, of possibility, of agency.  And then let’s rip out all the classes and lectures about scarcity and replace them with lectures from the best fundraisers and executive directors and philanthropists we can find – so we can give students the tools to create these conditions of abundance.

7 thoughts on “Scarcity

  1. One way to see the power of abundance is to look at what happens with singing. If someone is making music, and only one person in listening, there is enough for them to hear. But if three more people, or three hundred more people come in to listen there is enough for them as well. It is the same with light, or a warm building, or integrity, or compassion, or a sunset, or the innocence of a baby…..

  2. I hear you, but all enterprises operate within limits, for-profits as well as non-profits. Money always IS scarce, in that you never have a much as you’d like; there are inevitably constraints. One of the dumbest things a for-profit entity can do is start behaving as though there aren’t. That road ends in the bankruptcy courts.

  3. Yes and then some. Strength builds upon strength. If we want to build strong, healthy, vibrant communities, we must first identify what positive state we are seeking (not the scarcity of problem-solving what’s wrong in communities, but aiming at what’s powerful and whole), and then identify the strengths we already have to build upon. Once we realize we already have everything we need to create favorable conditions in our communities, the work is a whole lot easier (and a whole lot more fun!).

  4. I think scarcity inculcates austerity also. It seems scarcity is a life reality in many things, but it should be removed for basic things like food, water, health etc.

  5. How to interpret and respond to “Trends in Canadian Philanthropy” « Daniel Miller's Blog

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