Capture Everything

More often then not, I spend a lot of time helping my coaching clients with personal productivity issues — not just fundraising.  That’s a key tenet in my work, as I believe that productive fundraising is the product of an efficient fundraisER doing the right kind of fundraisING.

One of the biggest personal productivity issues that pops up has to do with loose ends.  There are simply too many of them and they have lots of fundraisers completely stressed out, most of the time.  In this profession we are exposed to an extraordinary number of inputs (loose ends).  By definition we are the middle man — the conduit between donors and the charities we serve.  Therefore we have inputs coming from both directions.  And the stakes are high if we drop the ball.

So, we need to be especially good at keeping track of loose ends and I’ve found that one of the best ways to do that is to make sure you have a good system in place to capture everything, yes EVERYTHING.  You can’t stay on top of everything if you don’t know what you need to stay on top of, so the first step to being an efficient fundraiser is to make sure you capture all those loose ends.

This means being prepared with an inbox or capture device at all times.  Whether you’re at your office, at a restaurant or lying in bed you need a means of capturing whatever great idea or overdue task pops into your head.  Typical capture devices include notebooks, phone apps, whiteboards, physical inboxes, email inboxes, a folder or pocket in your briefcase, voicemail, a notepad on your night stand, a bath crayon in the shower, text messages, etc.  You may need all of these, you may not.  There may be other tools that you need as well.

Personally, I operate almost 100% digitally, with two exceptions: my moleskin notebook for taking notes in meetings and when I’m on the phone (I find clicking keys & phone use rude in these situations) and a clear folder for corralling paper until I can get it scanned.  Here are just a few of my favorite capture tools:

  • Alex Toys – Rub a Dub Draw in the Tub Crayons
    Yes an odd suggestion, but keeping this in your tub or shower allows you to capture all those great ideas that you get while you’re in there!
  • Evernote – Digital Filing Cabinet
    This is the tool we use that allows us to operate completely paperless.  All paper gets scanned into Evernote and then it’s available on all of our devices, anytime, anywhere.  It’s a great, affordable option with lots of unique and powerful features (including free basic accounts).
  • Moleskin – Classic Large Blank Hardcover Notebook
    Capture everything!  You’ll never see Chad at a meeting without one of these.
  • Uniball Jetstream – Ballpoint Pens
    Chad’s pen of choice … smooth writing with no smearing (especially in moleskin notebooks)

Just make make sure you have a way (tool) to record an idea/task/anything no matter where you are.  Getting this information out of your head and into your personal productivity system will do wonders for your stress level and let you finally feel like you’re on top of things.  And most importantly, it will make you a more efficient fundraisER and therefore improve your fundraisING.