- Volunteer packet – Volunteers can be incredibly useful when it comes to ways to strengthen your nonprofit and incredibly time consuming. Automate some of the systems by creating a packet for volunteers. You can learn about their interests, explain your priorities and areas of need, and establish a standardized set parameters for all involved. Specifics can be worked out once you understand where their enthusiasm lies but this will help you avoid the initial in-take from becoming a time-suck.
- Your calendar – plan out your day – Yes, this may be on your computer or phone, but consider – what are you going to accomplish today? If you fall from one reactive exercise to another, you will never move forward enough to strenthen your nonprofit. Schedule a time to answer emails, attend meetings and return calls. But also schedule your focused work time. And be somewhat firm about it. You don’t want to anger your co-workers, but ultimately, you are responsible to do your work and you have to find the time to do it.
- Personalized office stationery – The costs are relatively low but the benefits can be extremely high. You can use it to write a personal note to one donor a day for the next month. Thank someone for the great conversation last week. Add a personal note into an invite for an upcoming event. You may not have the time to make 28 additional coffee meetings this month, but how can you resist a way to touch 28 people when it only takes 5 minutes per person?
- Board manual – If you don’t have one, you should. This is the place were expectations from time commitments to fiduciary responsibilities are clearly stated. A clear picture of the organization is offered. And the formality reminds both parties of the nature of the relationship – a business partnership.
- Strategic plan – If you don’t know where you want to be in the next 2-5 years, how can you explain it to anyone? A set document, even if it always remains a work-in-progress, will ensure everyone is focusing on the same goals and help strengthen your nonprofit.
- Board-approved job descriptions – Often, when a board complains that they love the ED but there are major items not getting done, it is simply a matter of conflicting priorities. In many organizations, leadership is overworked so, for your sake and theirs, get on the same page. Whether you think major donor stewardship should be 20% or 70% of the time commitment – make sure you all agree. Or be ready to be continually disappointed.
- Fundraising collateral materials – Too obvious? Maybe, but having the right materials at hand can be helpful when introducing anyone – donors, new staff, volunteers, etc. – to the organization.
- Donor strategies – I was hesitant to put this on the list because it is usually a print out and not a set paper documents but it would seem to be missing the mark if it was not included. Individualized donor strategies, including upcoming steps, should be reviewed and acted upon on a continual basis. If this is not yet a part of your day/week/month, pull out your calendars mark it in red. This is essential.
- Case statement – If you have a case for giving – use it. Make the calls, get the appointments, and don’t miss a great tool to speak with your potential and current donors. Get them on board with the organization’s focus, and money will always follow.
- Your to do list – Motivate yourself to do something new today. Get one project started that has been on your list for more than a week (month or even year). You will feel good when you cross it off, or when you determine the reason it was such a low priority is that it wasn’t worth much and should come off of your list anyway.
Want to see other lists that can help your nonprofit?
Note: this post was originally published in 2010