The reality of change

Growth. Transformation. Change. Innovation. Continuous improvements. Accountability. Transparency. Leadership. We know the words. We try to live them. We may think we are living them. But are we? What does it really take to live into individual and organizational aspirations? And what is the timeframe?

Change is at the core of life. It is who we are at our very core. Like it or not, we – and our organizations – are always changing. Sometimes we are conscious of it, sometimes not. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t going on. Change can be about growth, it can be about deterioration, and everything in between. Related to this, what appears to be growth from one perspective can be experienced as deterioration when viewed from another lens.

There are times when we are forced to change. The impetus can be internal or it can come from the outside. On a personal level we may learn that we need to “change our ways” during a visit to the doctor, or when talking with a loved one. As an organization we may be “encouraged” to change by funders, investors or the communities we represent and serve. In all cases we respond, for even a delay or no response is in fact a response.

But change is hard. How do we live up to our personal and professional aspirations? How do we as leaders engage ourselves and others in creating organizational and community change?

When we say “change is hard” we don’t mean that change is negative or insurmountable. What we know is that making and sustaining change requires more than good intentions. Those intentions are a critical starting point and building block, but they are not enough. They need to be supported by resources, systems and infrastructure.  These three – when combined with intention – are key to who we are and what we can achieve. They are also often overlooked.

Many of us – as individuals and organizations – are asked to do more with less and are held accountable to a standard that is defined by those with greater access to resources, systems and infrastructure, and who may not be aware of the imbalance or inequity.

The question “Why can’t you get to work on time?” is a reasonable question when asked by a person with consistent access to reliable transportation and child care. Here’s an organizational example, “Why can’t you hire and retain a strong fundraising professional?” Again, a reasonable question if the organization has a healthy work culture, engaged executive, a history of successful fundraising, technology and volunteers, and the ability to compensate at a level commensurate with skill and experience. That may not be a lot to ask of some organizations. It is almost impossible when asked of others, especially those that are historically under-resourced and over-committed.

The resources, systems and infrastructure that support change can be expensive in terms of time and money. Many of us can change when we are in a crisis – at such times we feel forced to.

The question is this: how do we as a culture and community support change and transformation outside of a crisis situation?

Copyright 2018 – Mel and Pearl Shaw

Mel and Pearl Shaw are authors of four books on fundraising available on For help growing your fundraising visit or call (901) 522-8727.

Images courtesy of

This week on FUNdraising Good Times....