Now is the time to assure you’ve got a manageable plan in place so you’re ready for prime fundraising season next Fall.

This month’s tips are designed to help you figure out how to prioritize and manage everything on your plate.

A task management system may help a little. Here’s one some of my clients use (you can try it for free). You may already have a favorite. If not, there are numerous other task management systems you can check out here. Most of these systems will “tickle” you to remind you when your tasks are uncompleted. You can assign tasks back and forth to others as well. The kicker? You need to get everyone to buy in to using this system.  If you’re a small shop, and don’t have a lot of folks with whom to coordinate, I find just plugging all my tasks into my online calendar and blocking out chunks of time works swell. Of course, you need to keep adjusting this if tasks take longer than anticipated.

Here are some thoughts that may help with organization:


If you’re new to the job, you may have never received a good orientation as to (1) what tasks to prioritize, let alone (2) how to most effectively do those tasks.

The unfortunate result? Your work day begins to resemble drinking from a firehose. You need a way to figure out which spigots to turn on; then off.  If you can’t manage the flow, you’ll feel you’re being flooded. Constant crisis mode. Exhausting. Here’s what to do to give yourself the equivalent of some good nights of sleep.


  1. Make a list of all your job responsibilities. 

  2. Attach an anticipated ROI to each one (e.g. “acquire X new monthly donors;” “acquire X new one-time donors;” “upgrade X current donors to major gift level;” “upgrade X current major gift donors to larger gifts;” “renew X lapsed donors;” “convert X [volunteers; subscribers; members; clients] to donors,” “acquire 20 new legacy gift commitments,” and so forth).

  3. Attach a monetary value to each strategy. (e.g., 100 new monthly donors at average $8/month = $9,600).

  4. Check in with your boss to see where you agree/disagree; then refine your list.

This should help you prioritize. It’s not all about today’s money; you have to prime the pump for tomorrow too. But the Pareto 80/20 Rule applies: you should be spending 80% of your time where you’ll get 80% of your contributed income.


If you’re new to the job, or have never tracked this before, you won’t have a good idea of how long tasks take. How much time should you allocate to planning and budgeting? To meetings and adminstrative tasks? To actual strategy implementation? Do you know how much time you’re spending finding compelling stories and photos? What about drafting, reviewing and editing appeal copy and design? What about making donor check-in/”getting to know you” calls? Or qualifying donors to add to your personal portfolio? Or assigning donors to other members of your team’s portfolios? Or making your own direct asks? Or researching prospects? Or writing grant proposals and reports? Or planning and coordinating events? Or making thank you calls… writing/sending thank you letters and emails… engaging in cultivation activities… inputting data… generating reports… conducting donor research… and so much more? What else is on your plate, and how much time do those things take?


  1. Take a week (or two if it seems like an unusual week) to keep track of how you spend your time. 

  2. See how this meshes with your priorities (see above).

  3. Talk with your boss about how to find a better balance.

Little things that don’t result in much ROI can eat up a lot of time. Try to get these moved off your plate. You need time to live and breathe your job. This will help you focus on the areas where you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck, not to mention the strategies that play to your strengths. Even if your boss is a “natural” at fundraising, they likely wear too many other hats to be thinking about your priorities morning, noon and night. Someone has to be on top of this at all times if you want to build a well-oiled development machine that will stand you in good stead, today and tomorrow. And that someone should be YOU! Don’t wait for others to hold you accountable. The best development professionals do this themselves, as a matter of course. Otherwise you’ll lose donors you shouldn’t lose, not upgrade others, and generally leave money on the table. Not only is this bad for the organization’s mission, it also tends to make you feel bad as well.


During Covid, a lot of organizations cut back on fundraising and marketing staff. As people began to move back to being on-site, and being able to connect with donors in person, strategies needed to adapt. Some did, some did not. You may have added more resources, or you may still be understaffed. Consider where you are now, and where you need to be when it comes to spending the money you need to make money.


  1. Consider what staffing you think will be needed for the coming year. What would make it possible for you to do your priority tasks more effectively, resulting in greater revenue for your organization?  For example, if you feel you have too many good “upgrade prospects” to handle personally, you can make a case to add staff. If you think there are grants out there untapped by your organization, you can make a case to add staff. If you’ve cut back on appeals due to lack of support staff, you can make a case to add staff. Or maybe you’re fine as is.  Just think about it. Development should be viewed as a revenue center; not a cost center. Expenses are not a black hole; they’re actually designed to bring in more money than they cost. 

  2. Talk with your boss about how they envision development (fundraising + marketing) staffing moving forward. How do they see your job responsibilities evolving? How do you want them to evolve? Endeavor to get greater clarity on your role, responsibilities and personal mission.


Here’s something to help you with all your appeal writing.

It comes directly from direct mail copywriter Jeff Brooks, who suggests you encourage readers to stay involved, and to connect with the stories you tell, by “guiding” them directly. Give it a try!

Consider incorporating omments like this:

  • “What happened next will really surprise you…”
  • “Let me repeat that last part for you. It’s very important.”
  • “It broke my heart when I saw her that last time.”

You step out of the story you’re telling and pull the reader in by directly addressing them. You can add color and interpretation that way. Do it well, and it can increase reader engagement with the story. And more engagement leads to more donations.

Here’s something to help you with email and website design.

A designer’s main job is to direct attention intentionally. Scanning is partial attention. Reading is focused attention. A screen without intentional rhythm will lose attention as it is being scanned. One with controlled rhythm will not only retain attention, it will deepen it. Consider the scenarios described in this article about how people read copy on the internet. Did you know folks spend 80% of their time viewing the left side of the page? Are you effectively using headings and sub-headings to help users find information faster? Are you visually grouping small chunks of related content? If you don’t want your carefully crafted content to go unnoticed, heed these tips.

MAY you have a wonderful and successful month!