Acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses is key to prioritizing funding opportunities and managing your expectations as well as the expectations of those who depend on your skills. There is nothing wrong with being exceptionally good at one thing and investing more of your time and energy in funding opportunities where you can use that skill. It’s also great to build up new skills, but preferably in a situation that is low risk and can be balanced with investing time in activities at which you excel. For example: if you’re a great grant writer, but you don’t have a lot of experience with event planning then it probably isn’t advisable to set aside a $50,000 grant proposal to orchestrate a brand new gala fundraiser. It might be perfectly reasonable, however, to set aside a much smaller grant opportunity to plan an evening of cocktails where a select group of potential donors is treated to information on your organization's upcoming projects.
Closely related to strengths and weaknesses is the concept of risk vs. reward. Sometimes it can be tempting, especially when board members or devoted volunteers suggest a fundraising idea, to jump in without weighing the risks and rewards of your action (or inaction). You may not want to appear difficult or negative, so you embrace everything; however, this can lead to abandoning other priorities that offer greater rewards or are potentially less risky. For example, a board member hears that another nonprofit held a walkathon that raised $25,000 and suggests your nonprofit do the same. The rewards: cultivating new donors, publicity, learning how to put together a walkathon event, and funding. The risks: falling short of the targeted number of walkers, holding a public event that appears under attended, raising insufficient funds to cover costs (t-shirts and snacks for walkers, employee time, etc.), missing out on other funding opportunities while consumed with event planning. There isn't a right or wrong answer in the preceding example, but rather a caution to stop and think about the risks and rewards before moving ahead.
Stay tuned for future posts on the role of organizational/programmatic goals and funding targets in the process of setting priorities.