How to Find Time to Fundraise

Oct 25, 2019Donors, Fundraising, Nonprofits, Philanthropy, Productivity, Time Management

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How do you find time to fundraise?

I see so many nonprofit leaders running from meeting to meeting with no sense of priority.

Here is the beginning of a long email I received at 5:40 am from an overwhelmed development director client. She says. . .

Nancy, I think it would be helpful to get your thoughts on how to prioritize. It feels like everything is a priority, so nothing is a priority. I sling a little out on each thing and never am at full attention to detail on anything. Any thoughts you have on organizing/prioritizing would be helpful.

A typical day in the life of a development director is:

  • constant overwhelm
  • your work is out of control
  • priority paralysis sets in
  • which leads to the potential to miss goals


To Find time to Fundraise, Block Time off on your Calendar

As development directors and fundraisers, your calendars often run you instead of your running your calendars. Hence, if you don’t control your schedule and time, it will control you. Your time is finite.

To find time to fundraise, block time off on your calendar.

Designate time each week to the fundraising process and other top priorities.

Manage your time, so you meet your fundraising goals.

Adopt a Proven Productivity System to Find Time to Fundraise

First, commit to a routine.

Your organization has established annual goals. Make sure you have the human bandwidth and capacity to execute on the yearly goals your team sets. You want to do them well or don’t do them at all.

How do you execute on those goals? How are you ensuring that you stay focused on what’s important – your top priorities?


#1 Use a Daily Productivity System

Of great importance, use a daily planner to write down your goals and tasks. Yes, use a pen or pencil!

Studies show that when you write down your goals, you have at least a 40% chance of putting them to memory. Undoubtedly, there is something about writing them down, keeping them front and center, and checking them off your list. What gets written down and scheduled, gets done.

Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner is the productivity management system I use. This daily system has been a game-changer for me. Unquestionably, this works better than anything I have ever used. This productivity system guides you to act on your highest priorities, both day-to-day and year-to-year.

I set my annual goals and write those in the front of the book. Each quarter, I select three annual goals from my list and focus heavily on those. Each week, I identify only three main goals to accomplish. That’s a challenge — I often have up to five goals for a week! Daily, I identify up to three main goals to achieve.

Adopt a productivity system to focus on your most important goals. A system provides clarity on next steps to accomplish your fundraising goals.


#2 Use an Online Project Management System

Additionally, use an online project management system. This is critical in communicating with your team. My team at the foundation used Basecamp, but now I use Asana. Check out Trello and Asana to start. Those two systems offer free versions.

You may have an online project management system you are already using. There are many project management systems available. Learn to use them and use them wisely. They are to help you, not to overwhelm you.


Wrap up: Find Time to Fundraise

Above all, adopt a productivity and online project management system to protect your time and keep you focused on what’s important. Cut the nonessentials. Utilizing a productivity system allows you to get the right things done and find time to fundraise.

Without question, a system will help you accomplish your biggest priorities without overwhelm and distractions. You must block off time to fundraise so you can achieve your fundraising goals.

Question: What type of productivity system do you use that has allowed you to meet your fundraising goals year after year?

Nancy Rieves, Ed.D. is a fundraising coach. She provides overwhelmed nonprofit leaders of small organizations with a roadmap to maximize and sustain major gift fundraising. She prepares leaders to be confident and successful in raising money. Reach her at [email protected].


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