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raise more in your first
year or your money back.

Terms and conditions apply

Help! I’m in Charge of Everything and I’m Overwhelmed

I need help prioritizing. I have some volunteers but I’m still in charge of everything. I’m currently directing our programming, managing day-to-day operations, and fundraising. Out of all the things I have to get done (and want to do to grow), what are the top things I can do that will maximize impact?

Here’s my list of things I want to work on, but I just DON’T have the time to focus on all of them. Social media, donor thank yous, getting event sponsors, increasing our programming, finding more volunteers, finding more donors… Help me make a plan!

This is, unfortunately, a universal challenge without a one-size-fits-all solution. Good news: time management is my favorite subject to research and I love to share relevant findings with my clients.

Simple answer – focus your time and energy on the time-sensitive activities that will raise the most money. Identify a “Top 3” for each quarter. With your list, I would start with securing event sponsors. In many cases, the prospect list is developed through conversations with your Board and/or top donors.

Commit to dedicating 50% of your total time available each week to fundraising until 75% of your fundraising goals are reached. I’ve achieved the most success when I’ve focused on building relationships. Why? Because these conversations strengthen existing relationships and typically lead to further introductions and connections that have proven to be useful when I need to find more donors, volunteers, typically anything down the road.

Get real about how much time you actually have each week and adjust expectations accordingly.

Finally, learn as much as you can about timeboxing. This time management technique will help you to develop a system for prioritizing work that is time-based vs task-focused. Furthermore, you will develop a more realistic understanding of how much time you actually have to work toward your goals.

Take it one week at a time for three months then schedule one hour to review your progress and determine what is working best for you. A note about goals: your #1 goal for 2020 is to figure out how you will measure success and then TRACK YOUR PROGRESS as you try out different initiatives. Basically, you’re going to gather data about what works best for you. This time next year, data will tell you what to focus on, not me.

Good luck. I have every confidence you can develop a system that works well for you!

P.S. I would prioritize your list as outlined below.

Top 3

  • Getting event sponsors
  • Donor Thank Yous
  • Finding More Donors

Delegate to a Volunteer (if possible)

  • Social media – ideal volunteer opportunity (first, you will need to invest 90 min in developing a document with policies and procedures)

Irrelevant until a solid funding foundation (75% of goal reached) is in place.

  • Increasing programming
  • Finding more volunteers
Have a question to ask? Get in touch at [email protected].

We got a surprise huge donation from an incredibly generous donor. Before now, my nonprofit has never received an individual donation over $4,000. This one was $50,000! I’ve already called to thank them and sent a letter, but that just seems way too insignificant considering the size of the gift – it’s what we do for all our donors. Any ideas about how to recognize them more? We are just so shocked and grateful.

CONGRATULATIONS – this is a fabulous surprise and major WIN!

My recommendation is to do all you can to get to know this donor. Meet in person as soon as possible to learn what motivated this donor to give so generously. Without knowing all the facts, I suspect this could be the beginning of a long and mutually rewarding relationship.

Let the donor do 75% of the talking and do your best to identify 1-3 areas of philanthropic interest for this individual.  If the conversation turns to recognition, don’t hesitate to ask the donor how they would like to be recognized and be prepared with 1-2 ideas (newsletter profile, special thank you/VIP seating at an upcoming event, social media shout out, a special match to encourage similar support)

BONUS – if possible, include your Board Chair or a Board Member in the meeting, this will go a long way to let the donor know how significant their contribution is to your organization.

I recently read about the 80/20 rule in social media. 80% of posts/emails should be content that informs, entertains, and inspires, etc. And only 20% should be about your organization: your impact, what you’re doing, promoting yourself.

 Thoughts on whether this applies to nonprofits? I think people want to know how their donations are being used, but that falls into the 20%. We talk about ourselves a lot – should we do that less? I think more entertaining/inspirational posts will build our audience, but it won’t help me reach fundraising goals.

I suggest a 40/30/30 approach for nonprofits.

INFORM 40% – posts dedicated to informing donors and followers how contributions are being used to advance your nonprofit’s mission.

RECOGNITION 30% – posts to thank individual donors (with advance permission), event sponsors (as commitments are received) and volunteers (individual and groups)

CALL TO ACTION 30% – make a gift, sign up to become a monthly donor, register for an upcoming event, vote in this poll, read our annual report, volunteer for annual coat drive, etc.

It is absolutely OK to talk about your organization, that is the purpose of your social media presence. As of today, there are 155 Million posts with the #inspiration. Focus on standing out in the crowd with entertaining and inspirational posts made possible through the generosity of your donors!

Ask a Fundraising Coach is Network for Good’s weekly advice column, where Personal Fundraising Coach Andrea Holthouser tackles your toughest challenges in the world of fundraising, nonprofit management, donor relations, and more.

Submit your questions to [email protected].

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