I was driving my daughter to her summer job, and we were sharing: Thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams.
I went first. “I had a dream last night that a large snake rose from the laundry basket.” Not being a snake person in any way-shape-or-form, I was still shaken a bit.
“Hmm,” responded 17-year-old Sophia. “My dreams are different, Daddy.” She paused—I think for dramatic effect—and then my theatre major truly delivered the goods.
“When I dream, I create societies.”
Uh… O.K. Wow. Whose kid is this? And when did the student begin teaching the teacher?
I was in such awe, it took me a few minutes to recover. “Seriously? I’ve got “reptiles” and you’re building worlds?! We should switch jobs!” I began processing her words, and first came up with this splash of cold water in my face:
When did I stop thinking big?
It’s no way to live, especially if you want to create societies or, at the very least, help mold and reshape elements of existing societies. I mean, we can continue to do the “same old, same old” with the usual organizations and for the usual causes, and by no means am I saying these longtime partners have stopped doing good work and are no longer worth your support. Standard operating procedure definitely has its place, and is often good for job security. But what I am saying is this:
You simply can’t settle.
You simply shouldn’t settle.
You should never, ever stop the flow of out-of-the-box ideas.
What if? Why not? How come? Has anyone ever considered?
Keep pitching those ideas, making sure, of course, that you’ve fleshed them out with data suggesting need and with action plans for implementation. Most donors aren’t afraid of new ideas, I don’t think; but they do want these ideas and dreams to be thought through a bit. Have you found partners or kindred spirits with other donors? Have you researched the problem and maybe found something that’s working in another “society” that can be replicated or adapted to fit your community’s needs?
That’s when the donor for whom you work will stop and consider your idea, your hope, your dream. The dream is in the details, or at least the pursuit of making that dream come true. Opening your mind to the possibilities is a very good thing.
Societies are out there, just waiting to be created.
Scott Brazda is executive director of The Stuller Family Foundation in Lafayette, LA.