Everything…In Moderation

We’ve all heard this wise adage. It’s usually used to encourage us to curtail excessive behavior – limit the consumption of alcoholic beverages, avoid overeating, live a well-balanced life, etc. The emphasis is always on “moderation.” After all, as another wise adage says, “You can’t do everything.” Or, as Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry” once said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

If you’re thinking like that, you’re thinking like “man.” Indeed, humanity is limited because of our humanity – but “With God, all things are possible.” And “All things” is synonymous with “everything.”

This is especially true when dealing with an institutional advancement mindset – EVERYTHING has to happen because it is a system that works together. Each element of the ARMED acronym (Asset Management, Retention, Marketing, Enrollment and Development) drives the other. Balance is of paramount importance. Do too much of one thing, and other things will suffer.

To see how this is lived out in the real world, take a look at today’s focus on the rising cost of gasoline. Rising oil prices increase the cost of gasoline. It also affects the cost of food since products must be transported to the marketplace. As alternative sources of energy are explored, ethanol (fuel made from corn) is suggested, and, since it’s made from a food product, will make food costs rise more. We can look at wind power and solar power, which make environmentalists cringe (even though most people think it’s making great use of the gifts we’ve been given) since the environments in which these structures are made detract from and even destroy nature and can cause damage to wildlife. If we seek oil from non-food products (like sawgrass or palm), it might endanger the wildlife which use these resources as their food. Technologists redesigned engines to get better gas mileage, operate with fuel cells, or use the benefits of both gasoline and electricity in a hybrid model…but then are criticized because of the increased carbon footprint necessary to make batteries.

But “hybrid” is a good place to start, since it’s a “both” strategy – sort of like moving from fundraising to development. A school can’t just “drop” its fundraising program and begin to solicit donors and expect to survive – it’s a process that has to be managed…one where institutional advancement efforts are begun, and as they increase, then dependence on fundraising can decrease.

Why do both?  Development is an element of institutional advancement, and institutional advancement isn’t linear. You can’t say, “We’ll start with marketing, and then we’ll focus on good asset management when that’s going, and then we’ll see how we can retain the students that come to our school once our classroom fill up. We can’t do everything, so we’ll just focus on one thing at a time.”

That thinking is precisely why school enrollments are declining, and faith-based schools are still closing. It ALL has to be done at once! To continue the analogy to increasing energy needs, the answer is EVERYTHING – wind, solar, alternative fuel, nuclear, more efficiency, recycling, etc.  Everything must begin to be enacted so that each element can start to chip away at the big problem.  There is no singular “silver bullet” solution!

Will everything be perfect from the start? Hardly. Will there be adjustments? Absolutely. It’s like maintaining landscape – mowing, weeding, trimming, feeding, watering, pruning, planting, edging. What if you only mowed a lawn, but never weeded it? What if you weeded it, but never watered it? Truthfully, if all these things aren’t done, the landscape suffers. But to keep it manageable, it must be done with a little attention to each – “in moderation.”

Remember, if you want different results, you need to change your point of view.  Since this is July, and the start of the new fiscal year, here’s a “new fiscal year” resolution – “Change Your Mindset.”  Shift the focus from “moderation” to “everything” also helps to build an abundance mentality rather than one of scarcity, helping us to thrive, rather than just survive.  After all, Jesus told us that He came so that we “may have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2008-2018 (Original Publication Date: 20080721)