The Elements of Personal Strategy

  1. Role.
    Role can do for individual grantmakers what mission does for nonprofit organizations. When they’re about to develop a strategy for responding to new opportunities, or when they’re hit with a crisis that leaves them reeling, organizations reconnect with their mission to help them focus on their ultimate aims. Although the mission is too sweeping to tell them precisely what to do next, it’s pointed enough to help them focus on what’s truly important and to develop strategies in light of it. Role is similar. In contrast to job duties, which can be neatly codified in a job description, the grantmaker role has more breadth.
  2. Self.
    Their personal assets — skills, life experiences, personality traits, passions, and other strengths — can help them perform their role effectively. Similarly, they have to assess which of their weaknesses — insecurities, blind spots, knowledge gaps, and personal quirks — may interfere with their effectiveness. Understanding their roles give them a chance to put their distinctive, authentic selves to work. And the more they put themselves in the service of their roles, the more likely they are to be effective.
  3. System.
    Considering how other roles (boss, board, grantseeker, grantee, colleague) create distinctive conditions – a sort of grantmaker microclimate – around their own spot in the work system. This view of the workplace as a system made up of many interacting roles helps grantmakers see who is influencing them, why, and how they can respond. This perspective can inform how a grantmaker responds, for example, to a grantee who seems reticent to share information. Rather than conclude that the grantee is hiding something, they can see the grantee’s reserve in part as a result of the interaction between the grantor and grantee roles.

Grantmakers who have internalized a strong sense of their role, their self, and their system are constantly devising personal strategies to manage swampy situations — and performing more effectively as a result.

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by Candid Learning for Funders using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Personal Strategy.