I don’t know about you but working in and around the voluntary and community sector right now can sometimes feel a bit depressing. It feels like we are under attack from all sides despite trying to do the best by some of the most vulnerable in our society. Rising demand for our work goes hand in hand with falling funding. We have a government and media that continues to be hostile towards us, and a public whose frustration with us asking for their money seems to grows with every passing day.
So I was struck by the more positive and optimistic approach of Vantage Point in Vancouver, Canada. Formerly a traditional Volunteer Centre, a few years ago Vantage Point set off in a different direction, working mainly with leaders of organisations rather than managers of volunteers. That journey has brought them to their recent campaign, a year of abundance.
This is how they define abundance:
…a culture of confidence and possibility infused with a belief that openness to new ideas and diverse resources will enable organizations to achieve transformational change. Abundance is not a destination or a management philosophy but a reflection of what we do in our organizations, and how we do it. Abundant not-for-profits have a fundamental belief in endless potential; they are confident that anything is possible with what is at hand, whether ideas, talent, money, or other resources.Vantage Point
I’ve written here many times how the UK voluntary and community sector (or at least the small but high profile bit of it that has paid staff and fairly large incomes) needs to realise that there are more resources available to do our work than just the money the public and funders give us. Vantage Point reflect that point perfectly when they say:
The world is full of experienced and talented people who care about community and are willing to donate their time and talent. Engage those people in meaningful ways throughout all levels of your organization and you will increase your capacity to achieve your mission.Vantage Point
What a paradigm shift that is, seeing the community we work in as full of a huge range of untapped potential rather than as a group of people whose wallets and bank accounts we want to open. Such an approach could be truly transformative, delivering so much more impact towards our missions but providing a far more positive narrative and context to our work than seems to have been the case in recent months.
Vantage Point may be working thousands of miles away from the UK but their concept of abundance is entirely transferrable to our country and our work. Their abundance message could be a much needed tonic for those of us working in the UK not-for-profit sector, pointing us away from a woe-is-us scarcity focus because of falling or less reliable income towards a wow-is-us abundance mindset that sees the potential of all the resources at our disposal.