3018

I was working in a spreadsheet and I mistyped a date, entering the year 3018 by accident.

And I thought, “that’s ridiculous, there’s no such thing.”

But of course there is. It’s a real, actual date, 1,000 years from now. It just doesn’t seem possible.

What if we could believe it was real, just as real as 2019– a date that is sure to come, whether or not we are here to see it.

What would our today, or our tomorrow, look like if we could see the direct connections between what we do today and what happens on this date in 3018?

Today, at least, if we live in the United States, I bet we’d go out and vote.

The Forever Problem

On the days I’m really sleep deprived everything seems impossible. White space is useless. My patience is low. I overreact.

And if I’m having a week or weeks with something that is physically wrong–an illness or an injury–my “impossible” stories get amplified. Especially in the case of illness, “What if I feel this way forever?” is a crushing thought that can spiral.

And then, if I’m lucky, I get better. Enough sleep or adjustment or medication or healing makes an ailment go away. My new “now” is replenished with possibility.

It’s the most human of reactions to over-attribute to our present “now.” We’re so confused about how time, and it’s passage, works that “now” often feels like forever.

So when we’re dealing with an unresolved problem, when we’re making sense of the “no way” that we thought would be a “sure!”, when a key decision maker is a long way from agreeing with our position, when ten potential investors all turned us down in a row…

…we jump, without noticing, to forever.

“What if this ‘no’ is forever? What if I will always be told ‘no’!?”

You won’t be.

You’ve just been told “no” now.

With some combination of good fortune, new information, different tactics, and the simple passage of time, forever things will shift.

Tomorrow’s now won’t be the same as today’s.

More than a dollar

It’s a myth that money is fungible.

Ok, not really.  Money itself is, strictly speaking, fungible, but that doesn’t mean all money is equal.  Who it comes from speaks volumes about your organization, its worldview, and what you stand for.

Some of the pieces of the equation are obvious: money with a lot of strings attached is worth less than unrestricted money.  Money that will take you off mission is money you shouldn’t take in the first place.

But it goes deeper than that.  A few weeks ago I was in Ghana – we opened our Acumen West Africa office earlier this year.  One of our top priorities from the outset has been to raise significant philanthropic funding from West Africans, and by far the most humbling part of the trip was the chance to spend time with the three Ghanaian Acumen Partners who have already stepped up significantly to support our work.  Theirs is not just a vote of confidence from some of the most amazing business leaders in the country.  It also creates a completely different level of accountability, a completely different conversation what we mean when we talk about “our” work in West Africa.   It is truly ours, it is truly shared.

Recently, the UK government made headlines when it announced that it would stop giving aid to India after 2015.  In our lifetimes, the bright lines around which countries are rich and which are poor will fade.  By 2025 India could easily have 500 million people in its middle class and 500 million people in poverty.  Brazil’s GDP per capita could easily pass the $15,000 mark with 10 million or more people living in urban slums.

The time to start cultivating a truly global corps of philanthropists, philanthropists who support both local and global causes, is now.    There’s no doubt that today it is easier and cheaper for your organization to raise a dollar in New York or San Francisco or London than it is to raise it in Mumbai, Lagos or São Paulo.  But if you keep doing that, you’ll miss the boat.

Remember, all money isn’t equal.