With the official start of summer right around the corner, I’m sure most nonprofit workers are consumed by two things: summer vacations and fundraising plans for the fall. Both are important, and obviously should be done separately. But if you’re like me and have an interest in learning and keeping the saw sharp, you might consider combining your time off with some work that will better prepare you for the challenges ahead.
Here’s how nonprofits can have an enjoyable AND productive summer vacation:
(1) Do something to improve your communication skills
The foundation of your success is your ability to speak, write and listen. Take a public speaking course or join Toastmasters this summer. Start a blog to improve your writing. I’ve been writing mine since 2004 and can confirm how much it helps. Does a blog seem too ambitious? Start by signing up for Twitter, the microblogging service that limits messages to 140 characters, and practice writing one or two sentences at a time. Tweeting will force you to write actively, concretely and, of course, briefly. Here are a few tips on how to get started.
(2) Embrace a new technology
Nonprofits aren’t usually tech leaders. They tend to rely on low-tech solutions for everything from database management to scheduling appointments. Try something new this summer. Trade in your flip phone for a smartphone that you can figure out when you’re sitting on the beach (They’ll be plenty of extra time for your favorite gossip magazine!). Sign up for the hot new social media site Pinterest and create powerful virtual pin boards for you and your nonprofit. I use my pin boards to display everything from the latest cause marketing campaigns to what’s blooming in my garden (or Yarden, as I like to call it). To better manage your calendar and free up more beach time, give an online calendar such asTungle.com a try. I love my Tungle because people can see when I’m available – but not my appointments – and can pick a date and time that works with their calendar without ever calling or emailing me. It’s also a FREE service.
(3) Figure out what’s really important
I’m sure you have some good reasons to take a summer vacation. You’re juggling too many projects and stretching yourself too thin. While you’re recharging this summer, reprioritize and focus on what’s most important to you and critical to your success (remember, they are not always the same). The list is shorter than you think. One or two things done well could transform your organization and you. Let’s say your organization has always struggled with poor visibility and name recognition. This impacts your fundraising, program delivery and the viability of your organization. Commit to tackling this issue head on.
Focusing on what truly matters is the tide that will raise all boats. You’ll enjoy the beach and sand more when your head isn’t buried in it.
Joe Waters is a friend of Boston Rising and Founder & Blogger at Selfishgiving.com.