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The Tyranny of Urgency

nonprofit data Nov 09, 2022

How many nonprofit fundraising data professionals out there can relate to this?

It's 4:30 on Friday afternoon. A coworker, perhaps your boss, requests the most important mailing list or most insightful report they've ever requested that is going to make all the difference in your fundraising cycle. And they need it by 9:00 Monday morning. After getting more than a little agitated, irritated, and annoyed at the lack of respect for your time, you spend the weekend pulling the request together. All the while cursing up a storm. Your weekend is ruined.

How do you break free from this tyranny of urgency? Here are some steps you can take to help shatter the cycle.

  • Gather your team and develop a reporting schedule. Do this as you plan for the upcoming fiscal year. Look at all fundraising initiatives planned for the year so you can do as much up-front work as possible.
  • Be in most, if not all, fundraising team meetings. Your input as "the data person" will help inform decisions and help everyone prepare ahead of time with data in mind.
  • Teach your team how to best request data outputs (lists, reports, exports, mailings) and establish an appropriate amount of lead time for completion.
  • Create a suite of on-demand self-service outputs. Take this a bit further and include instructions on how to adjust some of the basic filters or criteria so teammates are truly empowered to access the data they need on a schedule that works for them.
  • Don't reinvent the wheel each time you create an output in the system. If it (whatever the output is) worked before, it may just need a few tweaks to use again in a different capacity.

Breaking free of the tyranny of urgency is a choice. It will take you some time to set into motion, but the effort will pay off as you gain your weekends...and your sanity back.

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