Setting priorities doesn't mean sticking to a course of action even when it's obviously not working out. It does mean sticking to a plan long enough to give it a chance to work, which will almost certainly entail weathering a few storms along the way. Patience isn't my best virtue, but I've seen it pay off time and time again in the world of fundraising. Even when strategies don't come together the way I'd hoped, I often find I not only learn valuable lessons but come across new ideas in the process.
There's no precise formula for setting priorities, but there are key factors to weigh that can help guide your decision-making:
- Hours in your working day
- Risk vs. Reward
- Organizational/Programmatic Goals
- Your strengths and weaknesses
- Funding targets
The first item to remember in everything you do is that there's a finite amount of time in your working day. I believe in balance, so you won't find me advocating that you give your whole self over to the need for raising the almighty dollar. Even if you don't want balance there's still only 24 hours in the day and some of those have to be spent sleeping, so do yourself a favor and when setting priorities keep in mind the limits on your time. Realize that if something is very important to you then you may need to learn to say "no" to other things whether they be fundraising-related, staff meetings, or things that you know in your heart are just time drainers that don't add value to your work and needlessly sap your energy.
Stay tuned for future posts discussing the other four factors!