These days, Idealware is a strictly virtual organization with staff and contractors in different parts of the country—and, in one case, Mexico. That means all of our meetings are held by phone or video chat. We also meet with other nonprofits, subject matter experts, sponsors, foundations, and lots of other people. Many weeks we also have a training or two scheduled. All of which makes for a lot of meetings. Some weeks our calendars look like winning Bingo cards, with every square filled.
Some of our work gets done in those meetings. But a lot of it does not—and when your days are full, it’s not always easy to find the time to get done everything that needs to get done. Inevitably, certain tasks get put off, again and again. Eventually they fall behind.
In an effort to combat this, Idealware instituted “Admin Day” last year. Though there’s some dispute over the official genesis of the day (Karen and I each think we came up with the idea), the gist is simple: we do not schedule meetings on the last day of the month. Instead, we use those days to accomplish a list of tasks—compiling the month’s metrics, invoices, and receipts, for example—but also to get caught up on such things as cleaning our desks and offices, and digging out from under the weight of a full email inbox.
Last week Karen sent me an article she’d come across called “How to Take Back Your Productivity With No Meeting Wednesdays” that lays out some pretty compelling benefits for a practice similar to our own, including limiting disruptions to increase productivity. We’ve become staunch supporters of the idea, and it turns out, we’re not alone.
Recently someone told me about the “screen free weekends” she imposes upon her family as a means of fostering more intimate engagement. To eliminate temptation, she goes so far as to shut off power to the house from Friday night to Sunday night. Though reluctant at first, her kids have come around. They even look forward to it.
I’ve also talked to people whose offices have similar, if less extreme, policies encouraging staff to leave laptops, phones, and tablets out of meetings. Like no meeting days, no-technology policies are simply a means of taking control of your own time and attention. Which, however you achieve it, is something that can benefit everyone.
Thank you to everyone who sent me suggestions for this month’s roundup of links. As always, if you come across something you think would be a good fit for the Best of the Web, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Understanding What ‘Operational Capacity’ Means for Your Salesforce Project
In this blog post, the first of two, Jenn Taylor at 501Partners talks about the Capability Maturity Model developed in the late 1980s by Carnegie Mellon University researchers and how it can benefit nonprofits to learn how to find themselves in the stages it documents. (We used a similar process with a working group of experts to create our data maturity model for our report, Becoming a Data-Informed Organization: How to Assess Your Nonprofit’s Data Maturity and Create a Culture of Continuous Improvement.)
Facebook Fundraising FTW
“If you hadn’t seen a Facebook Fundraiser before June 16, you probably have by now,” Amy Peyrot writes, citing the example of the more than half a million people who donated to help RAICES reunite families separated at the border by the Trump administration. That effort was not orchestrated by an organization, she says, but by a California couple who set it up on their personal Facebook page with the intention of simply doing their part to help. “Their simple plea has … made it clear that Facebook Fundraisers have finally arrived as a powerful tool for creating change in the world,” she writes. “There are a few things you need to know to take advantage of that potential.”
Addressing the Giving Plunge: Advice from the Great Recession
In this follow-up to their post, Charitable Giving Expected to Plunge: How Nonprofits Can Survive, Jim Lynch and Michael Stein offer advice gleaned from studying the past. Don’t panic; hear them out.
The Ethics of Designing Digital Infrastructure
A well-aligned digital infrastructure should be the aspiration of all nonprofits, Lucy Bernholz and Lyndon Ormond-Parker write in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. “Nonprofits today are dependent on digital software and hardware. Just as they manage their financial, physical, and human resources, so must they align their digital technology with their values to achieve their mission.” This well-considered and well-argued article should be a must-read for nonprofit organizations.
Out-of-Date Tech Threatens Talent Pipeline
Associations Now has a take on the results of a new Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report, which found that more than half of employers say that technology issues have an impact on workers’ desire to join an organization and that dated tech threatens the retention of high-skilled employees. “Wanna keep your best employees around? Make sure you’re offering them the right digital tools.”
15 Alarming Twitter Stats That Show Why People Unfollow You
Do you know how your organization’s tweets are being received? Are you breaking unwritten rules or behaving poorly without knowing it, driving followers away? Social Media Today has an infographic that shows the site’s most alienating sins.
Five Ways Your Nonprofit Can Successfully Adapt To New Technology
You can choose, purchase, and implement the right software for your nonprofit, but if employees don’t understand the value it can bring to their roles, they might not use it. How do you articulate value and eliminate obstacles to adoption? Five members of Forbes Nonprofit Council discuss ways to ensure that your organization and staff are up-to-date with the skills needed to adapt to technological advancements and innovations.
10 Simple Things You Can Do to Support Your Favorite Nonprofit Without Spending a Single Dime
Looking for ways to engage supporters between campaigns? Want to provide ways for constituents to contribute to your organization when they can’t do so financially? Laura Huth-Rhoades sent us this list of “10 easy and no-cost ideas that those who support your nonprofit can do in less than five minutes—and without spending one dime—to help you grow your nonprofit.”
See you next month…