Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dealing with the Opportunity Costs (Nicole Wilken)

A difficult aspect of the World Relief Campaign is selecting only one project to fund per spring semester. Even outside of the college context, any organization that raises funds to support projects has to deal with opportunity costs – when you choose to fund one project, you are not able to support other projects with those funds. But how can you feel like the project you chose is the most impactful when you can see all the paths not taken? This is a tough issue, and my only answer is to re-iterate the importance of knowing your mission. In SALT, there are many project proposals submitted each year that fit with our mission and what we hope to accomplish in the WRC. And the difficult truth is that we can’t do it all. It is never fun to reject a great grant application. However, the close selection process really forces us as an organization to think critically about what we want to accomplish and the effect our work can have outside of the “college bubble.” An important part of SALT’s mission is to equip students with the skills to see opportunities for social justice in the world around them. Through the selection process of our WRC project, we become more aware of the issues that exist. Simply by having those other options in the conversation, SALTers are better informed about the issues and may suggest service opportunities or focus groups the next year to address them. In this way, the opportunity costs are an important part in our growth as people and as an organization.

In what ways do the opportunity costs in your philanthropy allow you to better carry out your values or organizational mission?

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