Time is a currency that should be invested wisely!

As fund development professionals, our plates are full! When juggling numerous tasks and responsibilities, from cultivating donor relationships to organizing events, crafting compelling campaigns, and tackling massive grant applications, time becomes a valuable asset.  

Time management is an essential skill to develop when managing a variety of tasks and finding good balance. From my work with coaching and supporting many fund development professionals, I have put together a few key elements in effective time management.

Setting Goals:

It is important to set goals for realistic expectations of yourself. Try writing out a calendar (see below) to allow you to view your whole month. Think of days in sections of grant writing, campaign development, and relationship building. Much like a fund development plan, your calendar should be diverse with the activities you need to complete to find success. Remember, don’t forget to build in self-care!

Enhancing Productivity: 

Realize what your distractions are and eliminate them to the best of your ability. If your email dings every time you have a new message and that ding takes your attention away from your current project, silence those notifications. Is there a co-worker that pulls you away to chat about their weekend? Ask that those conversations wait until lunch. Can you move a meeting from in-person to Zoom to save on travel time? After identifying distractions and taking actions to reduce or eliminate them, set yourself up for success. Prioritize relationship building and establish readily available tools that will increase your productivity, such as:  

  • A well-drafted case for support to guide your campaigns and marketing messages 
  • Pictures, images, and data that clearly help to articulate your organization  
  • Knowledge of and written programming budgets.
  • Other key documents and tools you need to reference frequently

Having all these documents in place will make for a smoother process of content creation. 

Tools and Resources:

Technology is a beautiful thing, but only if you know how to use it. Take time to learn your database efficiently. There are many tutorials online that show how to get the most out of your database, from reporting to moves management and grant tracking. Think about systems that can be automated, from emails to social media posts. And don’t forget about your colleagues, board members, and volunteers. Many of them are eager to help! Take some time to establish a list of tasks that can be completed by someone else with little to no instruction, then assign these tasks with deadlines. Make sure to set up clear guidelines for everyone’s overall success.  

One of the time management skills I most struggle with is saying NO! Instead of saying no to a project, I now think, “if not now, when?” This helps me recognize my own personal limits, creates balance in my work and personal life, and sets everyone up for realistic expectations.

Effective time management for fundraisers is not just about working harder, it’s about working smarter. I hope these tips help you recognize time as a valuable currency and help you to use it wisely!