The nonprofit world that we operate in as fundraisers is a great environment. We work with passionate people who get up every day to make this world a better place. While there is certainly stress involved, it is most often a shared stress aimed at fulfilling the mission. We’re typically shielded from the office trolls, cutthroat politics and unreasonable bosses that seem so common in the for profit would.
But I think there’s a downside to all of this congeniality. Because we get along so well with our passionate peers, we like to involve them in the process. We want everyone to have input so we can collectively own everything that we do. So, what do we do way too often? That’s right, we call a meeting.
Look at your calendar. I suspect that’s it’s filled with meetings. And not donor meetings (which is what it should be filled with). I bet it’s filled with internal meetings and committee meetings. I’ve already spent a good bit of time talking about how to avoid meetings and maximize those you can’t, so why on earth would we want more? It’s a bad habit. Our brains just go there. “Something new has come up? There’s a decision to be made? Well, then we better get everyone together and talk it through. I better check availability and call a meeting.”
I don’t mean to discount the value of peer input and working as a team. But there has to be a line, not everything requires a meeting. I’ve sat through far too many meetings during my career that didn’t need to happen. Don’t be that person that is calling one of these every month (or more). Sometimes you just have to take a leap and make a decision, especially if the repercussions for a bad one aren’t that severe. The time saved from avoiding ANOTHER meeting can be used to raise more revenue (by getting out of the office and spending time with your donors).
One last point here … I’ve seen this situation actually get so dire (meetings being called for everything), that fundraisers actually give up their power to a committee that doesn’t know what they’re doing. This most often occurs with fundraising appeals. Why on earth should a committee of peers (or board members) that know nothing about best practices in fundraising appeal writing have the opportunity or authority to edit your perfectly crafted appeal letter? Just write it, run it by the minimal amount of people necessary to avoid repercussions (hopefully not the marketing team) and get it out. The results will be far better.
So the next time you think “I should schedule a meeting with the team to discuss this,” take a moment to decide if you really need to do that. Can you take a small calculated risk, make the decision yourself, and save a ton of time for everyone on the team?