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Forecasts, Predictions, and the One Certain Thing about 2012

As we enter a new year, it’s time to shift from looking back on the past year to looking ahead and preparing to face the next 12 months. From membership andnonprofit fundraising predictions to philanthropy and social investing forecasts, other experts and organizational leaders are sharing their assessments of what’s to come in a year that will likely be marked by continued economic uncertainty, the all-consuming presidential campaign, and further technological advances that will make what once existed only in sci-fi movies a part of our everyday lives.

In the realm of nonprofit management and volunteer engagement, it’s no different. Yet, looking back on some of the profoundly unexpected events of 2011 in the areas of world politics (the Arab Spring), natural disasters (Tsunami in Japan, tornadoes across America), grassroots movements (Occupy), technological advances (increased mobilization of communications and commerce) and the economy (near record unemployment rates), we offer only one confident prediction for 2012:

No matter what the new year brings, our attitude will define it. Where some see only scarcity, we can choose to see abundance:

  • Where others are burdened by an increased demand for services with decreased or flat staffing, we see opportunity to leverage the increased focus on volunteerism and engage volunteers in meeting these demands.
  • In the wake of local or faraway disasters, some are paralyzed by uncertainty about helping without sacrificing mission-centric work, while we choose torally our own volunteers, partnering with organizations to share our resources and help others in times of disaster.
  • With flat or only slightly increased financial contributions to organizations, at best, many are continuing to limit programs and services, while we see the opportunity to cultivate volunteers as donors and cultivate donors as volunteers to increase both financial contributions and human capital for the organization.
  • While some are overwhelmed by the challenge of “keeping up” with technology and social media, we see multiple opportunities to engage volunteers to help organizations be strategic with technology and have a big impact for a small investment.
  • Finally, with such uncertainty in the world, some resort to “tried and true” practices and are surprised when they don’t get the same results in this changing world. We, on the other hand, choose to embrace innovation, nurture a culture of change through high impact volunteer engagement, and therefore position organizations to be responsive and thrive no matter what the year delivers at our doorsteps.

The bottom line is this: Whatever 2012 brings, out attitude will shape how we experience it and where we land as we enter 2013. No matter what happens this year, whatever challenges and opportunities come our way, our destiny – and that of our organizations and causes – will be shaped by our attitudes. As Earl Nightingale said, "A great attitude does much more than turn on the lights in our worlds; it seems to magically connect us to all sorts of serendipitous opportunities that were somehow absent before the change."

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