May 12, 2020
Maintaining Nonprofit Productivity and Positivity During a Crisis
BY RONITA MOHAN
The current crisis has sent nonprofit fundraising into a tailspin. But there are ways to improve the productivity of organizations and maintain positive attitudes in difficult situations. We detail seven ways in which nonprofit productivity can be improved in crisis environments.
Carving Out Your Space
Working from home is a different ballgame to sitting at your office desk and doing your job—and it impacts nonprofit productivity. The home has very dedicated uses — entertainment, relaxation, and family time — but that now has to be adapted to make space for working. It can be challenging to fundraise when you aren’t comfortable in your working environment. The best way to mitigate this situation is to carve out a dedicated workspace in your home. Choose a desk, an area of a room, part of the table, or a spot on the rug to make your own — this will help you get into office mode at home. You can also follow these productivity tips — that work just as well for office spaces as they do for homes. Keep the ventilation going in your home by opening windows. Don’t crank up your a/c or heat too high. Put some nature sounds on in the background. Not only will this help you work better but it will also make you feel more positive about the situation.
The current crisis may have changed the way the world works, but it doesn’t mean that nonprofit communications need to come to a standstill. In fact, now more than ever, organizations need to communicate within their companies and with donors more frequently. For internal communication structures, hold regular briefings about the situation and how it is impacting the organization is imperative. Develop a fundraising strategy and plan which can be shared internally. Create documents and use tools that will help teams manage projects and deadlines for future fundraisers.
For external communications, inform your donors and potential attendees for fundraising events or campaigns via social media, newsletters, and digital posters. Connections can be made within the community and beyond but it needs to be frequent and impactful to improve nonprofit productivity and positivity.
During this crisis, nonprofits need to make remote team communication a priority, but relying on singular modes of communication isn’t the best way to achieve this. Creating more modes, like chat apps, to communicate internally will make it easier for people to stay updated and in touch. And the same goes for external communications — improve your ability to reach out to potential donors by using more channels — people are online almost entirely right now. Use that to your advantage.
Fundraising is a project that needs interaction to be completed successfully but that doesn’t mean you have to be physically present with the donors. Video calls are just as useful for teleconferencing with fundraising clients as face-to-face meetings. When holding video calls, it is important to create an agenda to ensure everyone stays on track and the call doesn’t meander too long. Come to the call with a prepared agenda. Representatives of the nonprofit should dress appropriately, and all call participants should be encouraged to turn on their video. Seeing others, even on a screen, not only makes people feel more connected and less lonely, but it also helps to gauge their reactions and gestures. A well-organized video call will improve fundraising opportunities and productivity.
Within the office space, productivity often comes naturally—you are around colleagues, there’s a buzz about work, and the day has its own tempo. At home, that becomes harder—particularly because one doesn’t have access to a lot of the equipment they are accustomed to. But there is a way to continue to be productive even while working from home—nonprofits can use a number of productivity tools to maintain workflow. These tools are effective for team collaboration, task management, flexible communication, and file sharing—thus improving productivity and fostering a positive work-from-home environment.
Focus on Content Marketing
The benefits of content marketing in the fundraising process cannot be overstated, especially during a period of crisis, like the one we are in now. Content marketing — creating written and visual pieces to share on multiple channels not only shows your nonprofit as being active, but it also allows you to make more connections. Additionally, content marketing efforts that are directly related to the current crisis can display the thought leadership of your organization. With more people online now, it is prudent to use digital marketing to your advantage — it will make your organization more successful.
When working from home, it can be difficult to separate your working hours from leisure time, but it is imperative that everyone does this. You need to stick to a routine as much as possible — wake up and work for a few dedicated hours. If you can follow your office routine, that’s great. If not, you should still have some sort of routine so that you don’t feel like you’re constantly at work in your home. Even while you are working, take breaks to stretch and eat — we have less access to move around but that doesn’t mean you stay rooted in one spot. Maintaining work-life balance during this crisis has to be a priority so as to be more productive and positive.
Getting more done during a time of crisis can be a challenge but there are methods to maintain a positive attitude, which trickles down to everyone in an organization. It’s important to carve out your own space, communicate regularly, use the tools available to you to keep in touch internally and externally, and to maintain a balance between work and life. By following these tips, nonprofit organizations will be better able to manage their work and fundraising efforts.