Fundraising 101

Just How Organized Are You?

Whether planning an event, sending a direct mail appeal, or simply taking care of day-to-day business, getting organized should be the most important part of your day. We’re all guilty of forgetting to make a phone call or following up with a prospect from time to time, but the more significant errors tend to come down to the lack of plan to organize your work. Below, I’ve outlined three simple tools that will keep a project, and your time, in top shape.

Spreadsheets: These rows and columns are not just for complex budgets and lists. Spreadsheets are a useful tool for organizing any kind of data. Are you looking for event space? List all of the possible venues and keep pricing, available dates, contact information and dated notes together in one place. Do you have a pile of projects that are on your rainy day list? Pop them into a spreadsheet and include details like deadline, priority, progress notes and responsible parties. It might take you a few weeks (or even months) to get to them, but the next time your boss asks you about a specific project you’ll be prepared to share the details.

Calendars: Most people use their calendar to schedule meetings and appointments, but it can be useful to set reminders and goals within your calendar as well. Do you need to follow-up with a committee member next week? Instead of adding another post-it to your desk, add it to your calendar and make time for it. Did you set out to cross the 100-attendee threshold for your upcoming event by the 24th? Add a check-in on your calendar so you can proactively evaluate and strategize if you’re behind. Is the influx of emails preventing you from getting to the proposal you keep meaning to write? Set aside a few hours each week to close your email and solely focus on the work at hand. You’ll be surprised by how much you can get done in an hour when you’re not refreshing your inbox.

Lists: On Fridays, make a list of all of the tasks you must accomplish during the following week. Don’t be afraid to be ambitious — if you can’t get to something that’s ok, but if you don’t write it down somewhere, it’s easy to forget. If you’re feeling overwhelmed mid-week, come back to your list, prioritize the most important projects, and take each task one at a time. Multi-tasking is important, but so is being focused.

Tell us how you and your colleagues stay organized in the comments section below!