Your nonprofit is raising funds, hosting influential events, increasing your volunteer network, and it’s resulting in driving a massive impact for your cause. That’s cause for celebration!
However, juggling these events, donations, and volunteers can be a time-consuming process. Many nonprofit professionals take on additional responsibilities because they’re passionate about what they do. They want to make the biggest impact possible.
What if we told you that you can still achieve that impact without working yourself past the point of exhaustion? With these tips to maximize efficiency and time management for nonprofits, you can make a more considerable difference in less time.
Importance of Time Management
According to the Pareto principle, 20% of tasks account for 80% of outcomes.
Take a minute to consider all the responsibilities on your to-do lists for today, this week, and this month. If we asked you to select the most critical 20% of those tasks, would you be able to? Time management skills help you dedicate the right amount of resources to those valuable activities while not allowing less impactful tasks to take up too much of your schedule.
Because we all have limited resources, these skills are imperative to ensure you make the most of what you have, and with your funding coming from donor dollars, improved efficiency will allow you to report back to donors with more impressive ways you’ve used their donation dollars.
How to Maximize Efficiency at Your Nonprofit
Ready to maximize your efficiency? Our top tips for improving nonprofit time management center around three critical areas—technology, planning, and delegating.
The productive use of technology empowers you to streamline your processes, plan effectively, and even delegate more constructively. Now more than ever, you have an abundance of tools available to you, including calendars, virtual to-do lists, automation software, and focus apps. Here are just a few of the purposes technology can serve:
- Virtual calendars help you plan collaboratively: Many virtual calendar platforms allow you to create multiple calendars for your organization, each with separate share settings. For example, you could make one calendar for specific volunteer groups and another to share only with your board members.
- News aggregators provide industry information in one place: Minimize the time you spend surfing the web for the latest updates and instead consider using a site that aggregates the latest news in one place. Keep up to date with industry developments quickly and easily.
- Eliminate distractions with focus settings: While keeping up with emails and social media is undoubtedly important, constantly allowing these notifications to populate on your screen can be distracting. Use Do Not Disturb settings on your device to keep the notifications from creeping into your focused time.
- Marketing automation software streamlines administrative tasks: Set up marketing automation software to perform repetitive tasks, such as sending welcome emails and updating accounts, so you have more time to spend on more involved tasks.
- Fund management software streamlines accounting processes: With a nonprofit accounting solution, you can save time organizing and managing financial information. Configure the software to manage your donor dollars, budget ahead, and pull custom reports as needed.
While technology serves a great purpose, make sure you don’t implement too many solutions that muddle your bottom line. Every tool you use should have an explicit role, and you should consolidate multiple tools whenever possible.
Once you’ve chosen the right tech solutions, our next tip for improving the efficiency of nonprofit organizations is planning. Effective planning will build upon three primary areas—self-awareness, self-care, and scheduling.
To plan most effectively, first determine which responsibilities require your dedicated attention and which tasks are simpler for you to accomplish.
Take a week or so to observe your body’s ultradian rhythm. The ultradian rhythm is a biological clock that cycles through periods where you’re more and less able to focus intensely. You’ll use your observations when creating your schedule.
Everyone needs—and deserves—time to rest. Workers are most productive during their first 50 hours of work a week. Working more than that will have diminishing returns. Instead of putting in that extra time, plan self-care into your day and encourage your staff to do the same.
Our ultradian rhythms show us that we aren’t consistently productive throughout the day. Use those low-focus periods to take a quick break and refresh your mind.
You’ve created a solid foundation of self-awareness and self-care. Now we’re going to use that backbone to schedule your days effectively. Follow these tips for an actionable schedule:
- Make it manageable: The beauty of using a schedule over a to-do list is that you must really consider what you can accomplish in a day and the time it will take you to do so. For large tasks — like planning a large annual event — break it down into smaller objectives you can realistically schedule in a day.
- Use time blocks: Schedule high-focus tasks in time blocks that align with your ultradian rhythm. Then group smaller tasks to complete in another block.
- Incorporate breaks: That’s right — write breaks down on your schedule. Make sure you’re actually practicing that self-care!
- Plan for the unpredictable: Unexpected distractions or challenges will crop up throughout the day. Plan ahead for these by leaving your schedule flexible enough to accommodate them.
As you create your schedule, you might find that you simply don’t have enough hours in a day to complete everything on your to-do list. This is where your awesome staff comes in. Understand your staff’s and volunteers’ strengths as well as your own so you can effectively delegate tasks.
Delegating responsibilities gives your staff and volunteers a chance to shine and help bring about the impact they’re so passionate about. After all, that desire for positive change is why they joined your organization in the first place.
Plus, delegating keeps you focused only on those tasks that you can realistically manage — without multitasking. According to neuropsychologist Cynthia Kubu, Ph.D., people are naturally monotaskers. Instead of working against your brain’s built-in functionality by trying to multitask, delegate and keep your attention on one task at a time.
Are you trying to delegate tasks but need more help? Consider hiring interns to bring fresh insight to your organization.
Maximize Your Administrative Efficiency With MIP Fund Accounting®
At MIP®, we understand the vast amount of tasks you’re juggling as a nonprofit manager. That’s why we’ve created a fund accounting system that streamlines many of your administrative tasks and allows you more time to serve where you’re most needed.
With MIP Fund Accounting®, we integrate both human resources and financial management systems into one seamless solution. Use built-in and configurable dashboards to keep track of all purchases and donor dollars. We also provide unlimited budget forecasting to help you plan ahead financially. If you’d like to see the software in action, request a demo today.