Do you find yourself saying this? That’s the norm at most nonprofits, especially small ones.
But be careful. What are you saying you don’t have time to do? Are you spending too much time on what’s urgent and not what’s important?
It’s possible to stay on top of things, even if you feel you’re so busy you want to tear your hair out. One big key is planning.
Here are a few areas that nonprofits need to spend more time on and how you can do this.
Thanking your donors
I write a lot about thanking donors because I believe many organizations don’t do a great job of it.
Sending a handwritten note or making a phone call will make a better impression on your donors than the usual boring, generic thank you letter.
Find board members, other staff, and volunteers to help. Recruit them ahead of time so you’re ready to go after an appeal or event. It doesn’t take that much time to write a short note or make a phone call, but it makes a huge difference. Get your team together for a thank-a-thon.
You need to keep thanking your donors throughout the year – at least once a month. This is where a thank you plan comes in handy.
Staying in touch with your donors
Your donors want to hear how they’re helping you make a difference, and you need to be in touch with them at least once or twice a month.
A newsletter can be a great way to stay in touch. Setting up a template and using an email service provider can save time and will provide consistency. Perhaps each issue will include a story/profile and some updates. You can plan these ahead of time. Create a story bank and fill it throughout the year.
Make a donor communications plan that could include your newsletter, email and social media updates, thank yous (see above), advocacy alerts, and surveys. A communications calendar is must for this.
Tackling your donor data
Don’t wait until a week before you send an appeal to update your database. Take care of address changes, bounced emails etc. regularly – maybe once a month.
You’re not going to win any friends if you misspell a donor’s name or send someone three pieces of mail because you haven’t bothered to check for duplicate addresses. What sloppy data means to donors
Measuring your progress
Make time at least once a quarter to see how you’re doing. Are you meeting your fundraising goals? Is your spring event worth doing? Are people reading your e-newsletter?
If something isn’t going well, 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 you measure your progress and figure out if what you’re doing is working. Library of Sample Dashboard Indicators
What’s taking up your time?
What’s keeping you from taking on these important tasks? Do you really need another meeting? If so, could you make it shorter?
Make time to do what’s important.
Photo by Brittney Bush Bollay