How to Maximize Productivity to Spend More Time with Donors
Nonprofit professionals know better than most how easy it can be to let the day get away. Between internal meetings, wading through emails, urgent grants and important donor meetings, work can pile up or worse — fall through the cracks altogether.
With prep for giving season underway, nonprofit professionals throughout the sector are readying for an increased number of meetings and longer to-do lists. Thankfully, there are methods and tools that can help nonprofit pros maximize their productivity and, more specifically, maximize their time securing grants and donations.
I’ve compiled a few tips to help take control of your time and make the most of your day.
Make Your Inbox Work for You
It’s no secret that nonprofit professionals wear many hats. And with feedback coming from all directions — internal teams, donors, board members — it can be incredibly difficult to focus on your work. A study from the University of Michigan found that people distracted by brief interruptions, like checking a phone alert, were twice as likely to make mistakes in their work.
A solid first step to managing these interruptions is taking control of your inbox by making your email work for you rather than against you. Using email tools that will effectively pause your inbox can give you valuable time back in your day. You can take these tools even further by utilizing apps to snooze messages that don’t need immediate attention or using features that set reminders for important deadlines. Taking comfort in knowing your inbox is handled will allow you to work diligently while knowing there are still plans in place to work through your smaller tasks.
Keep It Personal
When it comes to working with donors, relationships are key. Of course you want to meet and network with as many people as possible, but risking quantity over quality of these interactions can leave nonprofit donors with a sour taste in their mouths and you struggling to maintain your calendars. Many in the industry have already switched to some type of scheduling site or tool, but increasing scheduling efficiency doesn’t mean automating every interaction. Make sure you’re using tools that enhance interactions rather than replace them to ensure you’re maintaining a personal touch across the board.
Own Your Day
Sometimes the best way to take control of your time is to block out certain windows for things in advance. For example, set aside certain times of the day dedicated to meeting with donors. Allow these time slots to be consistently left open so you can better manage the time you spend on other tasks throughout the day and focus on these meetings once the time comes. Further, setting aside specific time for things like admin will also help to ensure none of these smaller tasks get left behind.
Given the important nature of the work you’re doing, it can be even more difficult to not take work home with you, especially as work-life boundaries continue to shrink with an ever-evolving workforce. Compartmentalizing your day can also help when it comes to fighting burnout and compassion fatigue. Nonprofit professionals like you can really benefit from organizing your schedules in a way that clearly delineates when you are signed on and just as importantly, when you are signed off.