For this week’s Productive Fundraising In Action feature, I discussed personal productivity with my long time colleague in fundraising, Maida Connor, CFRE, Executive Director of Advancement for York Catholic High School …
What personal productivity technique has had the most impact on your career?
I keep daily project lists, crossing off and transferring items not tackled to the next day’s list to keep projects on track and deadlines met. It causes me to reflect and sometimes redesign/redirect projects for better outcomes. It is also incredibly helpful as I oversee a vast project area which encompasses marketing, communications, admissions, constituent relations, major gifts, annual fund, fundraising, special events, and campaign work. This technique better prepares me for weekly meetings with my team to prioritize projects, forecast simultaneous efforts (mailings, special events, etc.) to ensure our collective efforts are well thought out, well planned and very well executed. This also makes it much easier to prepare reports for the school board and other leadership volunteer boards.
Why did you choose this specific technique over any others that you may use?
While it may be old fashioned, writing out my project lists reminds me to prioritize, delegate, and tackle activities efficiently. It causes me to consider a project’s elements, mission, deadlines, and anticipated (hoped for) outcomes, and also regularly forces me to prioritize and re-prioritize. By giving projects careful thought during a daily task list review, I’m less likely to miss deadlines and often am able to improve project components.
Do you have a favorite tool that helps you stay productive?
I regularly review fundraising/development newsletters, blogs and publications online as well as local (Central Pennsylvania) news feeds to keep current on ideas, success stories, and news about area companies.
Do you have a favorite productivity book, system or expert that you look to for guidance?
I highly recommend any books, conferences, webinars or newsletters by Tom Ahern and Simone Joyaux. They are often my ‘go to’ source when I’m constructing a fundraising/donor cultivation program or battling writers block. They always have sound advice, great examples of winning materials, and new ways of building great donor relationships to increase dollars.
Chad’s Two Cents
Maida is a to do list master, of the written variety. I certainly agree that keeping current lists of all active tasks and projects is key. It’s the critical component to getting tasks out of your head and into your system, so you can actually relax. However, it’s often the process of routinely reviewing a to do list, not the list itself, where the magic happens. Maida conducts a “daily task list review.” This allows here to “prioritize, delegate, and tackle activities efficiently.” She’s not just on autopilot, going down through her list in the order it’s written. She is taking time on a daily basis to review priorities and ask questions like:
- “Does this task still need to happen?”
- “If so, does it need to happen today?”
- “Am I the only person that can do it or can someone else on my team handle it?”
It’s the daily pondering of questions like these that take you from an efficient worker to a productivity superstar.
Maida Connor, CFRE serves as Executive Director of Advancement for York Catholic High School (YCHS) in York, PA. YCHS is a private co-ed school for grades 7-12 which is built upon the pillars of faith, mind, heart, and family. It has proudly served families throughout York County, PA and northern MD for nearly 90 years offering exemplary academics, competitive athletic programs, strong cultural and spiritual programs in a caring community of talented teachers, staff, and coaches. The school’s graduates number over 9,000 worldwide and emerge to become compassionate, effective leaders and doers locally and globally.