What We Can Learn From a Color Wheel
I am on vacation this week, so I can turn off my usual thought process and relax. My brain is focusing on colors and the impact colors have in our lives. I have been looking at colors to see if I can translate them to stories from my career. It is an unusual exercise and makes you think. GraphicSprings created an infographic of colors from a color wheel with definitions that represent the colors of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, white and black. I will relate career experiences based upon the color cited.
Red is the color of fire and blood, so it is associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire and love. It is a very emotionally intense color. It is very high visibility and indicates courage. My story is I was working at a university when one day the president asked me to his office. He had a witness in the office. Even though my development program just won an improvement award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education one month earlier, he told me my job and my staff’s jobs would be immediately eliminated. I had never experienced this scenario before, so I felt several negative emotions. The only reason for this action was the fact one individual felt like making a change. You learn more about yourself in defeat than in victory.
Orange is the color that combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. It is associated with joy, sunshine and the tropics. It has very high visibility and is the color of fall and harvest. It also represents creativity, success and stimulation. The story that came to my mind with this color was teaching at Nova University and Olivet Nazarene University. I had the joy of learning subject matter, translating the information and providing this information in a variety of ways to students of all ages.
The educational teaching experience was a true joy for me and made me stay up to date with knowledge in the nonprofit field.
Yellow is the color of sunshine. It’s associated with joy, happiness, intellect and energy. The color produces a warming effect and evokes pleasant, cheerful feelings. It is also associated with food. When I was vice president for development at Dayton Children’s Medical Center we hosted an annual volunteer appreciation dinner for at least 25 service dogs. They were in uniform, sat with their masters, enjoyed a wonderful meal and was recognized for their service. There is no greater joy than having a very sick child play with a trained volunteer dog in their hospital bed!
Green is the color of nature. It symbolizes growth, harmony, freshness and fertility. It is also associated with money. I had the honor of asking a couple in their home for a several million-dollar gift to name a hospital facility, which they agreed to do. I remember obtaining one million of it with a check in the mail.
Green is the color those in development strive to obtain for in our careers. The color has great healing power and improves the health of many professionals!
Blue is the color of the sky and sea. It is associate with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth and heaven. It is also a preferred color for corporate America. This color is dedicated to the many individuals that hired and worked with me through the years. I hope they can say I was a good hire and worked hard for their organizations. I strived to give 100% effort. I can say I made mistakes and probably took work too seriously at times.
Purple combines the stability of blue and the energy of red. This color is associated with royalty. It symbolizes power, nobility, luxury and ambition. It conveys wealth and extravagance. It is a very rare color in nature. This color reminds of the many homes of wealth I have been in during my career. I have seen many affluent people with “things”. Some of these people were very philanthropic while others were not philanthropic. The joy of the profession is having the experience of being able to interface with so many different types of people.
White is associated with light, goodness, innocence, purity and virginity. It is the color of perfection. White can represent a successful beginning and depicts faith and purity. It is the appropriate color for charitable organizations. I have worked for several organizations either as a practitioner or consultant. I enjoyed them all but the ones I related to on a personal level was those with a mission focus, especially those that cared about an individual’s body, mind and spirit.
Black is associated with power, elegance, formality, death, evil and mystery. It usually has a negative connotation. It denotes strength and authority. It is considered very formal and powerful. When I think of this color I remember the many black-tie events I had to direct or participate in through the years.
Also, at one university, I was designated the funeral attendee for alumni, parents and friends. As planned gifts director, funerals happened quite often. I viewed these events as celebrations of life and thanks to donors and their families for providing a legacy for others to follow.
The beauty of having a long colorful and successful career is you can look back and think about experiences and impact made on many others. Through the help of so many colleagues, millions of dollars have been generated to help thousands of people at all ages and life spectrums. Think about the color wheel profile and what experiences come to your mind. That is what makes the nonprofit professional so special and unique.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.