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How do you get it all done when you're a fundraising one-armed paperhanger?

Look at all of this work I haven't done yet

Look at all of this work. Look at it.

Today I am answering more reader questions.

So here we go.

One reader asks, “I am a one man show. It is hard to do everything. I recruit volunteers and board members to help as much as I can, but as you know, there are some things that the ED has to do!”

Another reader echoes, “Too many urgent priorities than I (the one-woman development and fundraising department) can successfully manage.”

RIGHT.

You asked how you can do it all in a one-person fundraising shop. I am here to tell you there is no way you can get it all done. There’s really not. Something is going to fall by the wayside and it’s not going to get done and you’re going to beat yourself up over it. Which is ridiculous.

There’s no way you can be equally good at and enjoy doing all of these things:

  1. Creating a fundraising plan
  2. Getting people to throw house-parties
  3. Tabling at outreach events
  4. Grants research
  5. Grant writing
  6. Appeals
  7. E-Newsletters
  8. Marketing
  9. Doing speaking engagements
  10. Website updating
  11. Coordinating volunteers
  12. Recruiting volunteers
  13. Major Gifts
  14. Capital Campaigns
  15. Volunteer appreciation
  16. Encouraging board members to fundraise
  17. Coordinating the gala
  18. Getting sponsorships
  19. Finding a venue
  20. Soliciting auction items, entering them and giving receipts
  21. Managing the career fair
  22. Data entry of gifts
  23. Thank you letters
  24. Surveying donors
  25. Planned Giving
  26. Social media and blogging for your nonprofit
  27. Getting media coverage for your nonprofit
  28. Keeping on top of the latest developments in the fundraising field

It’s beyond your capabilities. Because you are one person, and you are being asked to do 5 people’s jobs. There is no way you could actually get everything done that you are asked to do. Really. You have a super job.

So first of all, you need to push back and tell your boss,

“There is no way I can keep up with multiple conflicting priorities. There is just NO WAY this is going to happen. What you are asking for is for me to do every job badly, instead of one or two things well.”

Tell them,

“I feel best when I do these tasks (name the things you do well). You should maximize my time in the things I do well, and pass off the things I don’t do as well to someone else.” Think about managing up.

Second, you need to agitate immediately for the tools that will help you succeed. This means you need to create systems.

What systems you ask?

  1. If you don’t have a fundraising plan yet, then you need to learn how to create a fundraising plan.
  2. If you don’t have a donor database, then your nonprofit needs to budget to get you a donor database. (Excel is not a database)
  3. If you don’t have an e-newsletter yet, you need to get your nonprofit to budget for that e-newsletter.
  4. Marketing processes. A google spreadsheet that will help you put all of the marketing processes in one place.
  5. A volunteer recruitment process. How do you get volunteers to help you? You have to know how to delegate. And you have to know where to look for them.

If just LOOKING at this list is making your head spin, then, like this person, who said, “One person shop and too much to do but not enough money to hire #2″

You need real help, right now. So, here’s how you can get some real help, even if you don’t have the budget to hire someone right now.

Sparked.com. They can help you do graphic design for your annual report, for your twitter background, for your logo, they can also look over job descriptions for you, they can also research other things for you. Here’s my post on Sparked.com and how I used them to make a logo for my nonprofit.

Fancyhands.com. They can do research tasks and phonecalls for you. Such as researching sponsors for your next big event, researching who the cheapest printer is in your town, making phonecalls for you to help your executive director get more speaking engagements, calling around to newspapers, radio stations, TV stations, asking if your nonprofit can announce your event or breaking news or get interviewed, and more. Try them. They are very fast, they are located in America, and they are smart. I loved getting their help.

Get some Fundraising Coaching. For 6 months, get a bit of direction and support as you deal with putting your systems in place so you don’t have to work so hard.

Finally, in order to not be a work-a-holic, you need to get outside, do your 40 hours and go do something else.

If you want to learn more how to empower yourself in your fundraising career, and NOT have to do it all, then check out my new book, Get the Job! Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide.

3 responses on “How do you get it all done when you’re a fundraising one-armed paperhanger?

  1. I agree with Rich, the role of the solo and small development shop can be overwhelming, and the 80/20 rule is an oldie but goodie. Spending personal time getting to know your board members and donors is often the very best way to achieve the 80/20 rule, sometimes 90/10. And of course asking for a gift, be it for annual fund, major gifts program or a planned gift, makes all the difference.

  2. Mazarine Mazarine says:

    Thanks for that advice Rich!

    What, in your opinion, are the activities that provide most of the income?

    Connecting with donors is good, but do you mean major gifts? annual fund? What, in your experience, have you seen that works?

    Peace,

    Mazarine

  3. Rich Foss says:

    Mazzarine, your list of 28 reminded me of how overwhelming it is to be a one person fundraising shop.

    I advise folks to use the 80-20 rule. Over time, 80% of your income will come from 20% of your donors. Try to divide your time the same way. Spend 80% of your time on activities that connect you with the 20% of your donors who provide 80% of your income.

    Easier said than done but you have to have some way not to drive yourself crazy when you are a solo fundraising artist.