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The Big Picture

December 27, 2011

The Big Picture View In Sedona

One of my dearest friends taught me something I have to re-learn every year:  it’s hard to create the life or the organization you want if you don’t remind yourself of The Big Picture often.

I recently traveled out west for a few days to visit her. Standing on top of a Sedona cliff, I was reminded again of The Big Picture—viewing life from the perspective of the whole, while also seeing each stone and pebble along the path, knowing each has its own purpose in building that larger, more beautiful scene.

The space for reflection isn’t always easy to find.  Our society in general designates the holidays as the time to live more closely with what really matters—whatever that may be for each of us. In part, it could be born of necessity.  After all, if it weren’t for the details of life, we would only dream but accomplish little.

This final week of the year affords us the opportunity to get in synch with The Big Picture, winding down and reflecting on the year we’ve just traveled through while planning what we hope to create for ourselves and our nonprofit in the New Year. Big Picture thinking reminds us of who we are, what we’re here to do and where we stand against the yardstick of our own self-measurement.

Maybe I’m biased, but I think most nonprofit staff and board members have chosen to work in this sector because they see The Big Picture more often than others.  It’s been inspiring to meet so many people over the last 6 years whose caring has little to do with what their jobs may be. Rather, they’ve chosen their jobs with intention because the mission is engrained in them.

I see The Giving Partner as an entrée into The Big Picture for donors and our community. It’s easy for them to get lost in the sea of e-mails, appeals and PSAs for our many separate causes. Who’s doing what?  How is one organization different from another? And how is our community a better place because of the different but connected charitable work?

Your organization is the sum total of your dedicated board, your devoted staff, your financial stability, the meaningful programs you offer, and you how leverage resources to reach your mission. What’s the big sky view? It’s your impact and the difference you’re making in the community.  That’s the beauty you see when you look out from the cliff.

Our donors are eager for the community vistas made possible through The Giving Partner for three reasons. Using this new tool, they can:

  1. View The Big Picture of our entire charitable community from one base.
  2. Understand your organization’s Big Picture impact in your own words, without the filter of foundation staff and what we may happen to remember about your nonprofit.
  3. Access your nonprofit’s greatest needs and help where you need it most, based on your priorities and The Big Picture as you see it.

Several nonprofit staff working on their agencies’ profiles have told us they, too, have a new level of awareness about The Big Picture of their agency as well as the individual parts that make it possible.

Our wish for you is a week of more freedom and reflection to think about the view you want to see along the cliff-side path next year this time when you step back to breathe a little.

Thank you for the difference you make! Happy New Year.

-Susie Bowie, Director, The Giving Partner
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

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2 Responses to “The Big Picture”


  1. This is an important reminder. Seeing the big picture allows us not to get mired down in small tasks and tactics. Using this tool, non-profits will now be able to see all facets of their business. And sometimes a fresh perspective is all we need to see the big picture. The Giving Partner sounds really important, Susie. Thanks for all you do!

  2. Ruth Lando Says:

    Thank you for reminding us how much we all need to see the forest for the trees. The view from the uncluttered top of the mountain can be scary when the path uphill is rocky and uncertain. You are so right that perspective and self-knowledge is invaluable. You’ve put your heart and soul into helping nonprofits understand and communicate their essence better through The Giving Partner. Wishing you all the best in the New Year.


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