Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Ready, Set, Go: 5 Nonprofit New Year's Resolutions

It's time for new year's resolutions - is one of yours to be more organized and productive at work? Here are a few suggestions for how to start 2017:
  • Map out the coming year: Take the time to look at your commitments for 2017. This includes events, programs, fundraisers, fundraising campaigns, grant application and report deadlines, performance evaluation schedules, annual reviews of policies and procedures, facility maintenance, equipment upgrades, and required inspections. Map all of it on your calendar. Consider not just the dates of events and programs; work backwards and mark when you have to start your planning process. Notice if you have several major time-consuming commitments scheduled around the same time; there might be a simple fix to make your year flow better.
  • Use your calendar program effectively: When I discovered that I could program my computer's calendar to send me email reminders of important deadlines, it was a hallelujah moment - because I spent many fewer days waking up in the middle of the night in a panic about whether I had sent that grant report out on time. It's a pain in the ass (and really time-consuming) to do this the first time around, but I promise you'll be thanking me for this tip. And if you've already done this, take a moment to make any necessary edits as well as brainstorm anything you should add into your calendar for 2017.
  • Review your Policy and Procedures Manual: First of all - I hope you have one. If not, this is your first order of business. If you do, take the time to read it thoroughly. Because you've probably forgotten much of it, yet this manual provides the basis for prudent governance. Note policies that need to be updated; note policies that your board and staff need to be reminded of. And note if there's anything that's missing or needs to be added to help your organization address new challenges that have arisen in the past year.
  • Read your mission statement: Yep - I highly recommend that staff and board actually take some time at the beginning of every year to read your organization's mission statement out loud, together. These words are at the core of what you do and why you do it - and it constantly surprises me how many folks who work in nonprofits can't remember what it says.
  • Resolve to take care of yourself: Remember to breathe before you speak defensively or in anger to a client, donor, volunteer, or staff member. Take time to schmooze, joke, and laugh with your colleagues. Be sure to actually take a lunch break. Don't sit in a chair staring at your computer all day - at the very least, take a walk around the block or do five minutes of stretching periodically. And take time to mingle with your clients, get to know them, and actually see what your nonprofit work is accomplishing.
Happy newly organized and productive new year to you all!

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