Ok.  Last week we talked about the massive fail of inadvertently communicating to supporters and prospects that we are not really listening to them because we’ve got too many other things on our minds.  Today, I want to offer a general guide to structuring our weeks in such a way that this is less likely to happen.

It’s not a perfect plan, but is a plan that’s worked for me.  It is offered with the caveat that things always come up, priority relationships trump plans, and flexibility is always needed.  But, if we go into each week without a solid playbook and without the discipline to follow it, we’ll get eaten up.  For the last 18 months, this has been how I roll:

Monday:  A day without meetings focused on project planning, assessing and evaluating current efforts and strategy, working through email (more on this next week), running giving reports, reading and researching new insights related to the field of my agency, and coming up with new ideas and getting these thoughts on paper.  Done right, Mondays can be awesome.

Tuesdays:  Meetings with staff, and dedicated time for pursuing business, church, and grant/foundation income as well as planning upcoming events.

Wednesdays:  Meeting, calling, and emailing with supporters and prospects.

Thursday:  Meeting, calling, and emailing with supporters and prospects.

Friday:  Meeting, calling, and emailing with supporters and prospects.

You get the idea.  We can call this my ideal week, and after about a month or two of inaugurating the plan, good things were happening.  Remember, every time you say ‘yes’ you are saying ‘no’ to something else, so let’s focus on making sure our weeks are spent saying yes to the right things.

What does your idea week look like?  Join the conversation at @infosmallchange #ascblog.

What?!?!  This is probably the worst thing that we could ever communicate to a prospect or supporter for our agencies.  It is a privilege and huge opportunity to personally secure time with those that we are seeking to draw into closer relationship with us, and so, to tell them we’re not  listening would be just awful.  And, I wouldn’t be surprised if they bailed on us.

A dear friend, colleague, and one of the best fundraisers I know was sharing the other day about a really tough season of being so stretched for time, that his 1-1 donor meetings were the only opportunities that he had to really think about all the things he needed to do.

While we would never, ever, say out loud to someone we are meeting with: ‘I’m not really listening to you,’ our cumulative time management fails can greatly increase the unfortunate likelihood of our communicating an inability to be fully present in other ways.  Specifically:

  • Appearing distracted
  • Forgetting to take notes
  • Realizing we have not heard what has been shared, and having to ask supporters to repeat themselves
  • Asking poorly crafted questions
  • Missing big opportunities to establish meaningful rapport

Our time with supporters is by design just that, time with donors.  It is imperative that we employ the discipline to turn off the faucet of tasks, plans, emails, and other responsibilities and give ourselves permission to really participate with folks.  Let’s not forget, this is the most important and most enjoyable part of our role.  Next post we’ll take about some ways to move the battle lines back, and plan our time in such a way that we can ensure supporters know we are really listening.

Thoughts on ways to ensure we are fully present with supporters?  Join the conversation at @infosmallchange #ascblog

Sticky Notes – Really?

May 13, 2015

Our friend Josh Collier kicks off our first segment on time management: I had this friend who organized his life with sticky notes. I thought he was so disorganized – he literally carried his laptop and a manilla folder filled with printer paper. Each page of paper was covered in sticky notes. What drove me […]

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Time is assuredly not on our side.

May 7, 2015

Oh that song and those Rolling Stones singing ‘tiiiiiiiime, is our our side, yes it is….’ Well, Mick, for the fundraiser in today’s obscenely fragmented and fast moving culture time isn’t on our side, at all.  In fact, lacking time to get everything done, setting priorities, and addressing time management issues with the latest strategies […]

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One from the Vault – Elusive Prospects

May 5, 2015

Grateful for these helpful words from Jason Dick in our first installment of ‘One from the Vault,’ featuring older posts that warrant revisiting: We all have those prospects which we can never get on the phone. I had a great question in my post, This Thing Called Follow-up, and I wanted to provide a bit […]

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A Facebook Champ

April 29, 2015

So, I think this social media thing is sticking around.  Actually, it’s almost difficult to remember a time when a regular barrage of thoughts, videos, meals, reflections, events, parenting snafus, rants, groups, and other posts ranging from the really important to painfully unimportant were not frequently shared with us.  Let’s face it, social media (Facebook […]

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Business Sponsors Are Awesome

April 27, 2015

It’s just that simple.  When we have come along side our Champions and coach them into creating pathways for partnership at the businesses they own or work for, inviting these same businesses to sponsor our big events follows naturally and is a win win. Last November, the agency I work for hosted it’s second annual […]

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Let’s Talk Business.

April 22, 2015

We’ve had some great responses and feedback on our recent post about finding and cultivating Champions for our agencies, and how their throwing a party can be an effective and fun way to acquire new donors.  Folks have asked about other ways to empower and leverage our champions to diversity our support network, so we’ll offer another here. […]

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Party On.

April 20, 2015

Alright, you’re in good shape.  You’ve identified some champions for your organization and you’re excited, encouraged, and relieved that you’ve got some folks to help broaden and diversify your support network. There are a number of ways that your champions can actively participate in the acquisition of new donors.  One of the most traditional and familiar […]

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Where are the Champions?

April 15, 2015

We development pros work hard to strengthen the relationships we have with folks who have given to our agencies and we call the process ‘retention.’  We also work really hard to build new relationships with folks who have not given to our agencies before, and when they do give for the first time we call […]

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