The Importance of Nonprofit Time Management
I was flying back to Indiana on a Saturday from Florida after a brief vacation. At 30,000 feet in the air, I was thinking about facing the following Monday at work. I specifically thought about how I could improve my performance going forward with respect to time management. Like all of us with management and fundraising responsibilities, we seek to maximize the amount of time doing the most important and productive functions at work. We know it is all about generating time, talent and treasure. But I was wondering if I was effectively employing the concept of time management. What is nonprofit time management?
According to Knowhow Nonprofit, good time management helps you to keep your work under control. The work time you have is finite and maximizing the use of the time you have available is essential. Good time management can reduce or avoid you wasting time and as a result achieve more. A person who concentrates on results rather than just on “being busy” is seen to be effective. The Pareto principle says that of the things you do during your day, only 20 percent really matter. But those 20 percent produce 80 percent of your results. If you can identify and focus on those things and find that important 20 percent, it will make a real difference in how you manage your time.
According The Fundraising Authority, many (if not most) nonprofit managers are not using their time as effectively as they could be. Because of the nature of the modern nonprofit, nonprofit managers spend their professional development time learning how to raise money and run programs, but not how to be good businesspeople.
The author’s hope is that someday, nonprofits will learn that knowing how to run the business side and how to be a good leader/manager are both as important as learning how to fundraise or how to run phenomenal programs. Success can be achieved by delegating to others; cutting back on email, voicemail and social media; and creating and sticking to a written plan of action.
This article from Charity Village makes the following suggestions to better maximize work time in the nonprofit world.
These tips are:
- Categorize your days. Know exactly where to start your office time every day.
- Use one hour every Friday to plan the following week.
- Use technology as much as possible, such as Outlook.
- Use Google Reader and Google Alerts to keep up with industry news.
- Say thank you sincerely and make it a daily habit.
- Smile as it is the easiest way to reduce stress.
- Kill as many meetings as possible and keep strict meeting times.
- Say no to useless requests for your time.
- If the organization is filled with secrets and intrigue, leave.
- Create a yearlong schedule.
- Volunteer elsewhere as it will be fun and fulfilling.
- Adopt the attitude that it is a job, only a job.
- Ensure your scheduling is not so tight as to be constantly derailed.
- Work as a team and support one another.
- Manage time by managing stress. Do this by taking care of yourself.
Bloomerang suggests that fundraising professionals should look at online opportunities for fundraising, prioritize fundraising opportunities based upon your own strengths, ask other peers for advice to improve performance, don’t be afraid to say no to activities that take away focus, remember that all fundraising overlaps, use structure to your advantage and get the basics right and the money will follow. It is important not to be too hard on yourself.
As a nonprofit professional, it is imperative that you make time management a priority. Know your strengths and weaknesses and when you are at your best each day. Understand your work schedule and when you have mandatory internal meetings. Determine, if possible, certain days when you can devote time externally to prospects, volunteers and donors. Seek to delegate responsibilities to staff for their own growth and development.
Seek actions that will free up time for you to do your job more effectively. Have a written plan and schedule with flexibility built into the schedule. Allow time to interface with those important to your time, talent and treasure acquisition success. Periodically monitor how your time management process is working. Do not be afraid to critique your work processes. Talk to peers and mentors to see if they have a time management system worth emulating. You know if you are productive and so do others. Make goals and objectives and meet those goals with a daily evaluation approach.
With a new fiscal year approaching soon for me, it is time to practice what I preach. Time management will be a top priority for me in the next fiscal year! What is your top work priority?
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at email@example.com or 317-224-1029.