A few weeks ago, I joined hundreds of women from around the country for a symposium hosted by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI). Wow! I met some amazing women—nonprofit leaders, social entrepreneurs, fundraisers and donors—who embodied the theme of “dream, dare and do” in their work to shape a better world.
All of us there brought passion—for the causes we support and for the organizations we lead and help to sustain. But as I moved through the day, I couldn’t help but be concerned. How could we prevent the energy and excitement in those rooms from diminishing once we were all back in our day-to-day routines? The organization and causes we care so deeply about require more than just our zeal for our missions. We have to be equally tenacious about three things that enable our success:
- Prioritizing relentlessly to execute on our missions
- Developing a stakeholder strategy and managing our “relationship assets”
- Embracing an outsider’s view
The world of philanthropy is vast, as are the causes we can support and ways we can support them. The WPI symposium drew together groups like Rumi Spice, a B Corporation of U.S. military veterans helping to build economies of rural Afghanistan by connecting spice farmers with global markets, and the Raikes Foundation whose grant-making focuses on the issues of education and youth homelessness.
In the face of this awe-inspiring array, it’s easy to get caught up in thinking about all the things you aren’t doing.
But that’s a path we shouldn’t take. Instead, we need to be hyper focused with our resources on what will move the needle for our missions—and be ruthless in pruning away distractions that don’t add value. How freeing to know there are so many others out there doing the things we aren’t! If we each focus on our core purpose, we’ll each be more successful—and have more opportunities to partner with others who are equally relentless about honing their own strengths.
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