Having too much to do is the norm at most nonprofits, especially small ones. You may be busy, but 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 set fire to the paperwork on your desk. One big key is planning.
Here are a few areas that nonprofits need to make a priority and how you can do that.
Thanking your donors
Many organizations do a poor job of thanking their donors. When you’re working on a fundraising appeal or an event, spend just as much time figuring out how you’ll thank your donors. 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, 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.
Also, spend some time creating an engaging thank you landing page and thank you email message. But wait, you’re not off the hook. You need to keep thanking your donors throughout the year – at least once a month. Say Thank You Like You Mean It
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, updates (by mail, email, and social media), thank yous (see above), advocacy alerts, and surveys. A communications calendar will help you with this.
Managing 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.
I know it’s tedious, but this is important. Your donors won’t be happy if you misspell their names or send them three pieces of mail because you haven’t bothered to check for duplicate addresses. Managing Your Donor Data: 6 Actionable Tips
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 keeping you busy?
What’s keeping you from taking on these important tasks? Do you really need another meeting? If so, could you make it shorter?
Doing a few things well is much better than trying to do too much. When Things Don’t Go As Planned Make time to do what’s important.