5 Time-Saving Tips For Busy Nonprofit Professionals

April Hearne
April Hearne

Content Writer

How’s that project going? Well, it’s on the list. As a nonprofit professional, time is our most valuable resource, and it often feels like there’s not enough of it.

Jereme Bivins of Good Dog Strategies says it well: 

“When you’re working alone or as part of a small team, tasks big and small mount up fast. You start the week with a manageable laundry list of to-dos and priority projects and then suddenly they’re overtaken by one-off requests, delays, and sudden changes in plans. It happens. It happens to all of us.” 

But, there’s a way out:

“Small tweaks to your processes, simple automations, and some basic tools can help you shrink the number of small things taking up the biggest bites out of your day.”

These small things are like repetitive stress injuries for the psyche. Not only are they intellectually painful, but they waste time. 

Luckily, there is a growing suite of free tools that help ease this pain. There’s no miracle cure, but a little time spent choosing tools that work for you and setting up some simple automations will pay dividends over time. It’s like ergonomics for the mind. 

Here are five time-saving tips to help you get more done in less time with less effort – so you can use your expertise to further your nonprofit’s mission. 

Short on time? Here’s the The TL;DR version:

  • Don’t get complacent about repetitive tasks.
  • Do commit time upfront to set up automations. 
  • Don’t make it overly complex – find a few simple maneuvers that work for you and keep moving.
  • Do iterate – these tools improve and evolve all the time. Keep current with the possibilities.
  • Do share what works for you! This community of nonprofit professionals is forward thinking, innovative, and especially adept at doing more with less. Let’s all help each other get more done. 

Read on for practical tips to save time and get more done with less.

1) Save Time Using A Calendar App For Meetings

We’ve all been there. You’re in touch with an external collaborator. It’s time to meet. 

“How about Monday at 2 pm, Tuesday at 10 am, or else anytime Friday.”

“No, sorry, I am out of the office through Wednesday. Friday’s totally booked. What about next week?” 

Four emails later you still haven’t landed on a meeting time. 

There’s an easy solution. Use a service like Calendly or Acuity (there are many to choose from). With one hyperlink, you’ve eliminated the back and forth. Your contact simply compares their calendar to your published availability and self-selects an agreeable time.

From there, you can automatically send Calendar invitations, set Zoom invites, push reminders, and much more – either natively in the app or using a service like Zapier. You’ll cut down on wasted time from back and forth communication – both for you and your colleagues.

2) Keep Yourself On Track Using A Project Management Tool

At best, project management software is an active hub of collaboration. At worst, it’s where tasks go to die. 

Even in the best case, keeping track of your tasks is a chore. Sometimes, it takes longer to track the task than it does to complete it. 

Two easy automations help keep this under control:

Two Way Task Syncing

At the nonprofit I work at, AMIGOS, we use Asana for team task tracking and project management. I also use ToDoist for personal tasks. Having to reference and keep two task managers up to date gets old. I use Pleexy to two-way sync my Asana tasks into ToDoist. This way, I can see all of my tasks, personal and professional, in one place. When I check a task off in Asana, it checks it off in ToDoist, and vice versa. This helps me see my day’s tasks at a glance, in one platform, and it saves me from wasting time double tracking.

Email Forwarding 

Most task-related software offers an email forwarding function. You can either forward an existing email chain to be added as a task or create a fresh task in a new email draft. You’re able to add due dates, project assignments, and labels right from your email client.

Here’s an example of how this works – this email:

Is sent to ToDoist and populated like this:

I can manage tasks directly from my email client, without opening another app. I can feel confident that I’ll be reminded when it’s time to tackle this task and I’ll have all of the context I’ll need in ToDoist.

3) Take Note-Taking Off Your To-Do List 

Taking notes can get out of control. Either I have a paper notebook with pages full of random thoughts, meeting notes, and action items or I’ve covered my desk in sticky notes. Feeling bad for the trees I’ve killed (and sometimes unable to read my own handwriting – anyone else been there?), I decided notes needed to go digital. 

There are loads of note taking apps. I wanted something that emulated a legal pad – jot something down, actuate on it, and then crumple up the top sheet. Drafts is a good, customizable solution that bills itself as “Post-Its for the Digital Age.” 

Everytime you open Drafts, a new workspace is waiting for you. When you’re done with a workspace, archive it for future reference – no more bookshelves full of old notebooks. 

As an added bonus, it’s easy to connect Drafts to task tracking apps like ToDoist. With one click, you can push a note to your task tracker for follow up later. 

4) Use Simple Tricks To Save Time On Emails

This one is pretty straightforward, but a big timesaver. In email, we all have preferred expressions, formatting, and sign offs. Especially when interfacing more formally with external constituents, these repeated phrases take too long to type out. 

Take a moment to create a keyboard shortcut for your go-to text. On a Mac you can access this feature system wide via System Preferences > Keyboard > Text. 

In the image below, I’ve created a shortcut to replace “dhtro” with “Please don’t hesitate to reach out should you have any additional questions or concerns.”

The same thing is easy in Gmail – you can use the “Templates” feature to pre-write and then populate common emails.

These simple shortcuts help me process emails more quickly and cut down on typos. 

5) Thank Your Donors Automatically

And finally, a (hopefully) very repetitive motion for your nonprofit – thank you emails. Every donation helps make your mission possible. And every donation – from $5 to $5,000 – counts. Personalized and timely thank you notes are the gold standard. But individualized follow ups and automated touches are a yes/and. 

When you set up a thank you note automation, you can rest easy knowing that any time of day or night, any day of the week, all donations are receiving a prompt response. Then, you can follow up personally when it makes sense in your schedule.

To set this up, choosing your suite of tools is key. Put together, solutions like CauseVox, Zapier, Autopilot, and expand your options for high quality donation follow up.

An example flow using the suite of tools above might look like this:

  1. Donation received in CauseVox
    1. Causevox sends a customized donation receipt with “thank you” copy included
  2. Zapier uses the data from the donation in CauseVox to:
    1. Add the donor to an Autopilot journey which sends a thank you email (or two or three)
    2. Trigger a handwritten thank you note to be sent via physical snail mail using
    3. Add the donor to your CRM
    4. Add the donor to your mailing list

With one automation, you’ve thanked your new donor three times, and you’ve made sure they will receive future communications. 

Simple Tools and Small Automations Add Up to Save Big Time

There is a whole world of efficient tools and simple automations just waiting to be discovered. The above tips may seem daunting, but they are worth a shot. Time spent learning the above tools will pay dividends in more than just personal time management. These principles can be applied to systems improvements in fundraising, marketing, operations, and much more. 

Use CauseVox To Raise More In Less Time, With Less Effort 

Ready to save time + raise more online in less time and with less effort?

CauseVox makes it easy for you to create and run your fundraising by empowering you to sell tickets, take donations, and run peer-to-peer fundraising all in one place.

Subira from Mentor, NY put it this way: “I save so much more time because your platform is so intuitive and straightforward,” she said. “ I have exactly what I need to dig deeper into the numbers and analyze things to close them off and keep things moving within our company.” 

It’s never been easier to raise more and save time while doing it. Get started today + maximize your fundraising:

Learn more about how you can run your fundraising event with CauseVox.

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