Sometimes teamwork looks like not working

November 9, 2021
6 minutes
A computer screen sits on a desk, in the upper left corner of the image. It shows a beach with sunset-colored water, sky, and tropical plants. Also on the desktop are scattered colorful paperclips and a tropical drink in a coupe glass. The background behind the desk shows that same fruity-colored sunset.

You’ve heard the saying “work smarter not harder” a million times before. You know that it’s theoretically possible for you to leverage what you’re doing and not be so nose-to-the-grindstone. But how?

You’re inundated with emails. Fighting fundraising fires. Responding to social notifications. Updating your donor records. Writing fundraising emails. The list goes on.

But here’s a hot take for you—what if sometimes teamwork looks like not working?

What if your operations, processes, and programs make it so that you can take a break or take time off?

Whether you’re a medium-sized team or a team of one, it’s possible to combine people power with the power of great tools to sometimes... not work. Which is, perhaps, the very definition of successful teamwork!

Now, let’s talk about how to make that dream work.

Sometimes teamwork looks like not working

If you want to streamline your nonprofit and fundraising program, you first need to know all that’s going into it. What are you doing daily, weekly, and monthly with your time? How much time goes to working on special projects like appeals or stewardship versus time that goes into administrative processes? This will give a benchmark for what it could look like to work more effectively.

Let’s say you’re currently spending 5 hours a week processing donations and issuing tax receipts. A real win would be that process taking just 1 hour a week, or maybe 0 hours a week.

Delegate, Automate, Eliminate

Once you know how you’re spending your time, take note of the processes you’re regularly running (ie donations processing, tax receipting, stewardship, database updates, etc). The regular processes are your low-hanging fruit for getting more time back in your schedule. When it comes to streamlining processes your new mantra is: delegate, automate, eliminate.

For every regular process that you run, ask:

  • Can I delegate this? For instance, can a volunteer, intern, or other staff member take over this process?
  • Can I automate this? For instance, can you integrate multiple tools to save yourself time?
  • Can I eliminate this? Allow yourself to be brutally honest. Sometimes we end up doing work that we think we should be doing. It’s important to know what value the work is bringing back to your nonprofit. If it’s not adding a lot of value, maybe it’s time to let it go.

Always be looking for efficiencies

It’s easy to get bogged down in the work and forget to question how we're doing something. Make it a regular part of your work to review what you’re doing and look for efficiencies. Finding little level-ups that can save you 15 or 30 minutes add up, leaving you more time for strategic work.

Start by learning more about the features of the tools you’re currently using. Chances are there are some features you’re not using that can help you streamline your work or kick it up a notch.

Opt for all-in-one solutions where you can

One of your best bets for team-less-work is to opt for all-in-one solutions where you can. Nothing takes more time (or is more frustrating) than trying to get all your tools to talk to each other. Importing and exporting donor records from one place to another. Trying to track it all in a spreadsheet. You don’t need that in your fundraising life!

Take some time off as a team

Yep, we said it. Not suggesting your whole department go on a vacation together (although if you do, make sure everyone is enthusiastically all-in... workplace power dynamics have been responsible for roping many a teammate into un-fun team-building.) But you can round everyone up for a lunch or happy hour to relax and chat about non-nonprofit stuffs or coordinate a departmental day of rest, or even decide to drop work for a week.

We all know self-care should be a priority, but, at least here in America, many of us don't bother to breathe, so scheduled breaks become critical to avoid burnout.

Funraise Free is here to help your dream work with better teamwork. We’ve got you covered with tools you need to turn your website into a donation magnet and manage donor data with a smile. Get ready to do more with less hassle this year!

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