A review of each year’s top New Year’s resolutions tends to reveal similar trends: Travel more. Read more. Get more organized. Lose weight. Spend less money.

As we unwrap the gift of a brand new year, we usually measure what we want to do in the future against the inadequacies and regrets of the past. It isn’t exactly an inspiring motivational tactic! Is it any wonder, then, that only 8% of people succeed at fulfilling their New Year’s resolutions?

The truth is, when inspiring major change, identifying the problem is only half the battle. Problems are not enough to inspire us alone; we also need the promise of a better future where the world is changed beyond the scope of the problem. Particularly when Philanthropic Opportunities are involved, we need a concrete goal to aim for in order to truly grasp the breadth of the opportunity.

This donor explains:

The job of development is to entice me into giving. That’s their job! It’s not my job to beg you to take my money.

You have to give whomever you’re asking an idea of what this money is going to do. You have to get them excited about the project, whatever the project is. Tell them what they’ve done in the last several years, and where they are expecting to go. That makes it tempting. I want to hear what we’ll be able to do in five years. I don’t know what else is really important.

We have a chance to change the world. That’s the big thing. As I’ve said to a lot of people, where do I fit in? Money is democratic; it doesn’t care who has it. So I had money. Things are good, lovely family…what more do I need? We have enough, so what can I do for other people?

Is your organization’s vision a reaction to the past, or does it go beyond what is known to imagine a future where anything is possible? In 2017, resolve to:

  • Focus on the possibilities.
  • Invite potential donors to dream with you.
  • Resist the temptation to set the bar too low.
  • Identify problems, then move beyond them to an inspiring future state.


As your organization presents its inspiring vision to potential donors, community members, and others in 2017, keep in mind that no resolution for change is complete without a compelling promise for a better future.