Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Why your world is about to get a whole lot smaller

Whether we like it or not, our world is about to get a whole lot smaller.

That’s the view of economist and author Jeff Rubin who recently released the fascinating but frightening book entitled “Why your world is about to get a whole lot smaller”.

I’d suggest all fundraisers read it, for it has connotations for all of us.

Now granted, this is one man’s opinion.

But there’s lots of evidence to back up Jeff’s words. In a nutshell Rubin talks about the worlds obsession with oil, and more importantly the relationship between the price of oil and the state of the global economy.

In regards to oil he says, “it will never be cheap again. Take away cheap oil, and the global economy is getting the shock of its life.”

The most alarming part, for a novice on this issue like me, is the rate at which we are running out of the commodity that we rely so heavily on.

Which means, hence the book title, the world is going to get a whole lot smaller.

If that is the case, and travel becomes exorbitantly expensive, what does this mean for the charitable sector? What does that mean for how far the charitable dollar reaches?

If this really is true, then the global downturn will look like a storm in a teacup in comparison. Let’s face it, charitable giving has only fallen a few % in the last year amidst what we keep defining as the word recession since the great depression, but even when it picks up again, can we be sure we can have the impact we really want/need to have on the world?

If the cost to transport relief from say the developed to the developing world is ten times more expensive, what will happen to those who need it most? Will it not get there or will be have to raise ten times as much in the first instance?

If there are fewer cars on the road, how will the local soup kitchen get their daily meals to those in far flung places?

And if it is more difficult to cross the country, or even the city you live in, how will you meet that potential major donor face to face to ask them for that $1m lead gift you need to build your new animal shelter?

Believe the evidence or have your doubts, but regardless, these are issues we will face, and in our lifetime.

I think it’s time charities starting planning for disasters, and I don’t just mean tsunamis. I mean financial downturns. I mean the warming of the planet. I mean the world running out of oil.

The latest downturn has shown us how exposed we can be. It’s time we start looking ten and twenty years ahead.

Jonathon

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