I always love this time of year ... the blank calendar, new projects, and opportunity for reflection and fresh starts. A chance to contemplate the challenges and successes of the past year, and dream about the one ahead. It’s a time I often feel anything is possible.
This year, my reflections have led me to think about the importance of perspective. Specifically, the fact that we approach every situation, consciously or unconsciously, with a set of frameworks which guide our emotions and actions. From getting on the Skytrain each morning, to making decisions, and in all of my personal interactions, my perspective affects my thoughts and behaviour. So what, you may ask? Well... some perspectives serve us extremely well. Others... not so much.
Our perspectives can be antiquated or negative. Or even destructive. And yet, we don’t know what we don’t know. Which begs the questions I’ve been pondering of late: If anything truly is possible – how do we change our own outdated perspectives? And in turn transform societal perspectives to enable positive change in our communities?
Sometimes, a radical critique can successfully prompt us to re-examine a familiar subject. A good example is this recent article in the NonProfit Quarterly, which spins the typical funder/fundee relationship on its head, beginning with the following announcement - To all foundation contacts and “funding partners”: Effective immediately, our nonprofit organization has reorganized and will henceforth do business as an Operating Grantee.® It's hilarious. And oh, so true.
At Vantage Point, we’re often tempted to take a similar approach as we constantly re-examine the familiar subject of volunteerism. In recent years, we’ve struggled with using the term “volunteer” at all – knowing folks almost always hold an extremely narrow definition of the word. We’ve experimented with other phrases, in an effort to shift perspectives. For instance - think for a minute about what image comes to mind when you hear the word “volunteer”. What do you imagine that person doing? Now - what about “external talent”? What comes to mind with that phrase? Is the image different? And the term “knowledge philanthropist”? Does that provide a different perspective? We’d love to know.
And while we're on the subject... what perspectives are you keen to transform this year?