But We Don’t Have Time To Do That

Do you ever find yourself saying that?  I understand. We’re all busy.  If you work for a small nonprofit, you probably feel as if you are being pulled in different directions.
But be careful. What are you saying you don’t have time to do?  If you are saying you don’t have time to write thank you notes, communicate regularly, or measure your progress,  you are neglecting some important areas.  
It’s possible to make time to do these things, even if you feel you are so busy you can’t see straight.  One big key is planning.  
Say thank you, and say it again and again
A few weeks ago, I gave an example of an organization that missed an opportunity to build relationships by not sending thank you notes after an event.
Many nonprofit organizations don’t do a great job of thanking their donors. Sending a handwritten note or making a phone call will make a better impression on your donors than one of those boring, generic thank you letters.
Get board members and volunteers to help.  If you have an event, you usually recruit volunteers.  Have these volunteers write notes or make calls, too.  It doesn’t take that much time to write a short note, but it makes a huge difference.  Get a bunch of people together and have a thank-a-thon.
You need to keep thanking your donors throughout the year.  This is where a Thank You Plan comes in handy.  

Try to thank your donors once a month.  It could be a short update via email or social media.  Thanks to you, we just expanded our afterschool program to Washington and Eastside High Schools.

Donors don’t want to be ignored
Remember the movie Fatal Attraction where the Glenn Close character says, “I’m not going to be ignored.”  Well, your donors don’t want to be ignored either.  You won’t suffer the same fate as Michael Douglas, but your donors may not donate again.
Your donors want to hear how they are helping you make a difference, and you need to be in touch with them at least once or twice a month.
Creating a Communications Calendar  is essential and will make this a whole lot easier for you. 
A newsletter can be a great way to stay in touch.  Setting up a template and using an email service provider will provide consistency.  Perhaps each issue will include a story/profile and some updates.
Remember, your newsletter doesn’t need to be long.  Keep it to a few short articles.  Shorter, more frequent communication is more likely to get your donors’ attention.  Send out a tweet saying Our donors are awesome.
Does it work?
One of the news programs in Boston has a weekly segment called “Does it work?”, where they review products such as the Potato Express and Chop Wizard.
You also need to ask – does it work?  Are you connecting with people on Twitter? –  Is your spring event worth doing? – Are you meeting your fundraising goals? 
If something isn’t working, figure out how you can make improvements or don’t spend your valuable time doing it anymore. 
Here’s a sample dashboard you can use to help measure your progress and figure out if what you are doing is working. Library of Sample Dashboard Indicators 
These are just a few areas where you might say you don’t have time to do that, but you need to make the time.

What  do you feel you don’t have the time to do?

Photo by bark via Flickr.

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