Say No to These 3 Time-Wasters

January is the time for to-do lists. But often we create so many lists, we set ourselves up for failure. 

My suggestion? The anti to-do list! Here is a list—short and sweet—of three major gifts-related activities that DO NOT warrant your time.

Long Meetings

When you control a meeting’s schedule, schedule it for one hour OR LESS. External meetings with donors or prospects might go for an hour. Internal team meetings can often wrap up in 30 minutes. 
Why? People’s attention begins to wane after an hour. And people will be more focused when they know they have less time. So you will see more targeted conversation and less unrelated tangents. 
Be clear up front about the desired outcome of a meeting. Better yet, prepare an agenda and send it out ahead of time. If in thinking about your meeting you can’t possibly imagine how you’ll contain it to one hour, start over and rethink the purpose of the meeting. Narrow its scope so you’re not trying to do too much. 

Mass Email Requests

I’m not talking about email solicitations, I’m referring to emailing an entire committee hoping to elicit some action. For example, if you have emailed your major gifts committee (or Board) asking for their help on something – perhaps it is 5 corporate sponsor ideas from each of them, or 3 prospective donors names. 

Their response? If you are lucky, 25% of the group writes you back. Many don’t respond at all. There is a strange dilution of urgency that happens in group request situations. People think you’re not talking to them. Or they hope someone else will respond so they don’t have to. 

A better tactic? Reach out individually to committee members. Phone those who aren’t responsive to email, and vice versa. Ask for their help one-on-one. Yes, the method is time-intensive, but the results will be much more impactful than a sad trickle of non-committal emails.

Lavish Printed Materials

You hear it all the time: people don’t read anymore. This may or may not be true of your major donors, depending on their background, age and station in life. But the reality is that we are all so inundated with information these days—much of it online—that hefty, glossy, expensive-looking printed materials have lost much of their oomph. 

Printed brochures and campaign prospectuses also become outdated quickly. Instead, consider sharing with donors a one-pager you can edit and print in your office. Or think about an engagement tool. These simple, spontaneous, engaging approaches facilitate conversation instead of hindering it.

What other time-wasters should we all stop doing? Please share your tips and advice in the Comments box below! 

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