Wrapping Up The Year

It simply never occurred to me that you don’t have to keep wrapping paper year after year.

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

We have one of those tall wrapping paper organizers that hold multiple rolls of wrapping paper. I counted. There are 15 half-used rolls of wrapping paper. Four of them are unopened. Some might have enough paper left to wrap one more gift.

I grew up overseas in the 1970s. Printed, colored wrapping paper just wasn’t available; it wasn’t an option. My parents were both Depression babies, so they learned early on – and taught us kids – that scarcity was a way of life. “Save everything because you might not ever get more again.”

On Christmas day my mother would remind us to open gifts slowly and not tear the paper “just in case.”

She would then gather up the used wrapping paper, iron it — yes, she would iron paper on a low, low setting. Ribbon, too. — and roll it gently to save for another gift giving occasion or next Christmas.

Scarcity, born once out of necessity, becomes a way of life.

We save wrapping paper at my house because we have to use the whole roll before we can buy another – because you never know when you won’t be able to get more wrapping paper.

I was looking at pictures of past Christmases the other day. Found a great one of Christmas morning 2011. Ten years ago.

Half the presents are wrapped in the same paper I had just used to wrap gifts today.

Ten years.

Ten years we’ve held on to that wrapping paper waiting until it’s used up before we can buy more.

You can throw out wrapping paper.

This was a revelation to me. It’s ok to get rid of those old tubes of wrapping paper and buy new. Or not replace them at all.

What Does This Have To Do With Fundraising?

What are you holding on to that you haven’t given yourself or your organization permission to let go of?

What scarcity mindset are you clinging to that, looked at with fresh eyes, you haven’t admitted you can let go of?

That report that someone spends hours on every week that no one reads. That weekly meeting that just lives on the calendar that nobody actually attends. The data list that’s full of outdated, duplicated names that nobody’s really going to call. The attitude that we can’t invest in relationships or gratitude because we can’t justify the ROI but we have to find more donors/raise more money.

Take a fresh look. Go back and look at pictures from 10 years ago — pull your fundraising results from 5 years ago. Has anything changed? Have you improved? Are you still fundraising the way you did last year or the year before?

What if we never ever have any more wrapping paper?

Yeah. This is the hard part.

I finally had to admit to myself there will always be some form wrapping paper. I have a friend who sends gifts wrapped in the local newspaper. I love it. Absolutely love it. Not only do I receive a lovely, unexpected, delightful gift but – yes – I actually read the local paper and delight in knowing things about where my all-the-way-across-the-country friend lives.

It takes fresh eyes, a different mindset, thinking differently.

It takes letting go of the habit of scarcity and admitting that the clutter that’s weighing you down and adding to your stress (I really hate that organizer of wrapping paper – it’s always in the way because, y’know, we might have to suddenly, urgently wrap a present so make sure it stays out and accessible) is something you’re clinging to because “What if . . . “

What If can sometimes be the thing that keep us from reaching What Could Be.

P.S. All disposed of wrapping paper was recycled or, as in the case of the unopened ones, donated to organizations or people who needed.

P.P.S. Fully acknowledge the privilege in being able to buy new wrapping paper and admit that sometimes our need to hold on to things that weigh us down is born out of the position that there simply isn’t budget or availability to afford ‘new/different.’

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