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VOL. 133 | NO. 180 | Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Pearl and Mel Shaw

Can We See Into the Future?

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“The future isn’t something that happens to you, it is something that you create with the decisions that you make today.” – Trista Harris

How many times have you dreamed of seeing into the future? Did you know you could make this dream come true? By the time you finish reading this article, you will move beyond dreaming.

Earlier this year we had the opportunity to meet Trista Harris. In a group session, she impressed us as being clear and focused. Little did we know she was “future focused.” When we had a moment to talk over dinner, our minds – and hearts – were opened. Harris is more than a philanthropy professional, mother, wife and community leader. She is a futurist. Needless to say, when she mentioned that, our first question was, “What is a futurist?”

We followed up with her to learn more, and we share her words with you to encourage you to set the bar higher. No more three-year plans – Harris believes you are wise enough to think what’s ahead in the next 50 years. Yes, 50 years.

Here are four suggestions from Harris to help you see into the future.

1. As leaders we need to understand that the future isn’t something that happens to us, it is something that we create with the decisions we make today. Nonprofits are in a great position to create a better future for us all.

2. Make time for the future in your present. Spend 5 percent of your week or two hours a week thinking about five to 50 years in the future for your organization or the issues that you care about. Read articles or just spend some time imagining what that future will look like to help you make better decisions in the present.

3. Futurism is a critical strategic planning tool. I lead organizations through a future visioning process where they develop a shared model of their ideal future, and then they identify signals of the future that already exist in their organization. This helps staff, board and community align their efforts around a shared vision. We can then spend more time talking about what the world would look like if the problem that we cared about was solved. We spend too much time loving the problem in our grant applications and fundraising campaigns.

4. Organizations that develop a 50-year vision for their work often find that critical pieces of that vision come to pass in two to five years instead of 50 because they have done the hard work of creating a shared vision of success. Get started by using the Stop, Look, and Go framework for becoming a more future focused leader. Go here to learn more.

You and your board can do more than commit to the future: you can help create it. Order Harris’ new book, “FutureGood,” and use it as a guide. As Harris says, “Future thinking is a muscle that only grows with use.”

Learn more at TristaHarris.org.

Mel and Pearl Shaw, owners of fundraising consultancy firm Saad&Shaw, can be reached at 901-522-8727 or saadandshaw.com.

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