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Scarcity Mindset vs Possibility Mindset

By August 7, 2019November 25th, 2020Communication

scarcity to possibilityHave you ever noticed, really noticed, your word choices in your day-to-day work? Have you, without realizing it, created a scarcity mindset?

To help others achieve success in fundraising my work focuses on communication. I help people change their language and awareness from a scarcity mindset to possibility word choices.

When I work with staff or board members I ask questions that shine a spotlight on day-to-day communications. Even storytelling can include scarcity word choices.

When you talk about what’s not working – more of that will show up – because it’s what you’re focused on.

Language choices have a HUGE impact in staff retention, fundraising, donor retention, raising awareness, and board engagement.

A simple question to ask is: How can we reframe a comment or question to come from possibility rather than scarcity?

No doubt, the question alone will raise eyebrows and and cause eye rolls. But it doesn’t take long for people to notice their word choices may be causing a scarcity mindset.

To make this easy to understand let’s focus on some word choices I’ve heard over the years.

Scarcity Mindset Phrases
Our goal is too big.
There is NO way we can reach our fundraising goal.
I don’t have enough time to get everything done.
Our board doesn’t do anything we ask of them.

The words we choose are the seeds to the outcome

I have years of evidence that the words we choose are seeds to the outcome. When we frame actions and intentions with scarcity language we stay stuck. We feel bad. We rarely see a way to move out of being stuck. We create a fundraising scarcity mindset.

Frame actions and intentions with possibility statements allows donors, staff and board members to see how things CAN and WILL change. Take a read of these old and new phrases to see what I mean.


Phrases Shifted From Scarcity to Possibility
Our goal is too big or There is NO way we can reach our goal this year.
What will it take for us to reach our goal? OR What goal is big enough to scare and inspire us? 

I don’t have enough time to get it all done.
In the time I have today, what CAN or MUST I accomplish?

Our board doesn’t do anything we ask of them.
We have some exceptional board members. Here’s what they are good at ______. OR What might we invite our board members to do that will excite their passion? 

Let’s take this one step further.

When you remove qualifiers in your language like: “trying to” or “planning to” what’s left is language about your commitment.

Removing scarcity language and qualifiers gives your words more power. Your phrasing becomes more believable, even to yourself.

Often there is a palpable feeling of a shift from scarcity mindset to possibility mindset.

Take a moment and make a list of scarcity language you’ve said today. Then “reframe” to possibility language.

This can be a powerful exercise to do in a group. The more people working to shift language choices, the more powerfully and quickly you’ll feel and see a difference in your results.

If you get stuck, list your phrase examples in the comments and I’ll help you reframe your language.

Check out these links to more information about how and why word choices matter:
The Power of Words – YouTube video
Two Powerful Words
My 3 Words for 2015
Why Word Choice Matters

To learn how to shift scarcity mindset while sharing mission moment stories, join Lori on Wednesday, August 21, for the NEW Grant Station Webinar: Advanced Storytelling.

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