Spring really and truly is around the corner. And as such, we’ve been thinking about what the warmer weather inevitably brings along with it – the human need to clean, tidy and organize!
Spring-cleaning is the time when we declutter, refresh and deep clean our homes. The winter had us hibernating and curled up on the couch. No doubt, it was glorious. But now that we can begin to peek our noses out of doors, we start to look at some of the chores that have piled up and the little (or big) things that have been neglected over the colder months.
Those same principals can be applied to our organizations as well. We may not need to scrub the floors, but tidying up our email list or sorting our databases may have been on the ‘to do’ list for months. Taking just a little time individually or tackling bigger tasks as a team can make a big difference to how we feel about our organization and also how it is perceived by clients, funders, service users and other stakeholders.
Take the opportunity to do it now before we all get swept up in holidays and the dog-days of summer!
The following list shares suggestions for starting our organizational spring cleaning so that at the end of the day we feel like our organizations are refreshed, well cared-for, organized and up to date.
Clean up email lists – Whether you send newsletters and emails to clients, funders, donors, volunteers, staff and/or others, there are sure to be some old, unused, incorrect or otherwise useless email addresses. Take the time to go through your lists and delete anything that no longer serves a purpose.
Send Out “Thank Yous”
We probably already have an organizational strategy where our automated system or development director sends thank you notes to donors. However, there are many people that help and support our organizations that may not have received an official thank you note from us. Is there a volunteer who has been particularly engaged or helpful? Is there a member of our community who has been especially supportive in the past few months? Is there a board member who has really gone above and beyond? Is there someone who has really helped us get the word out about an event, drive, announcement, etc., on social media or elsewhere? Not only is thanking someone the right thing to do when they’ve been supportive, it’s also a great way to diversify our engagement strategy, especially if there is a way to recognize our awesome supporters publicly. Let’s highlight our heroes!
Tidy Up Your Hard Drive
Okay, this one is not very sexy, but we promise that the payoffs are big. The following questions may give us a clue as to whether or not we need to take a dive into our hard drive; Do you know how to find any file at any time without having to use the search? Would you say your filing system is consistent? Intuitive? Efficient? Have you created random folders that are actually empty? Do you have files saved that aren’t in a folder? Do you have too many folders? Not enough? Have you saved documents that you’re sure you’ll NEVER look at again? When you open your file explorer is it easy for you to find everything you’re looking for? If you were to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize tomorrow and you had to leave the organization, fly around the world to share your ideas and sadly your ED or board had to replace you, could someone step into your shoes, look at your computer files and know where to pick up exactly where you left off? If any of these questions made us stop and think, then perhaps it’s time for us to spend some time tidying up our computer files… Once everything is completely organized, it’ll feel so good! Plus, nonprofit efficiency is a noble goal.
Set Up Coffee Dates We’ve Been Putting Off
We may have a stack of business cards, emails or LinkedIn contacts that we’ve been meaning to meet with. Over the winter we may have put them off due to the cold, the bad weather, the early darkness, etc. Let’s set aside some time to reach out to those we’re most excited to connect with and make some coffee dates. Be sure to spread them out (as in, not all in one day or one week) so that we’re not overwhelmed and we’re able to think about our meetings and really consider if there are ways to do something great together.
There are so many big and little decisions we may have been putting off such as where to hold our gala, when to have our AGM, specific staffing decisions, program decisions and so many more. If we sit down and make a list of all of the decisions we have to make, we may be able to identify those that are most important to take now, and those that need further discussion or thinking. When we make the list we can at least know what’s waiting on our say.
Check-in with strategic and operational plans – We are already a quarter of the way into 2019 so it’s a good time for us to assess whether we’re on track. We can start by reading through our strategic and operational plans as a staff team and ask ourselves how we’re doing. What has changed since the last time we looked? Are there tactics or strategies we’ve neglected? Pulling out these plans can really get us back on track, help us re-focus our energies and motivate our teams. Be sure to record all updates.
Our website is often the first encounter a person has with our organization. It may also serve as the main point of reference for funders, clients, volunteers, service users and others. Spring is a great time to freshen up the website and add new content, edit where needed and delete old/inaccurate content. We can check our program pages, staff and board pages; we can also have a look at our ‘What we do’ or ‘How we help’ pages and ensure the write-ups accurately reflect our action on the ground; what about the ‘About Us’ section? Are we talking about ourselves/our organization in a way that paints a true picture of who we are and what we are about? And sometimes, though the content may be ‘correct’, it feels like time to just write new content and highlight other areas of our work so that the website is fresh. We can also change up the photographs and other images on the site as well as our social media.
IRL Spring Refresh
Nonprofit office spaces are not often known as the most glamorous or beautiful. So our office/cubicle/desk/countertop/corner could probably do with some freshening up! We can do this free/cheaply with just a few nips and tucks. Start by giving your work area a thorough cleaning. That alone will make it feel like a corner office on Bay Street. Then tidy and organize all of the paperwork. Next, see if there are things you could bring from home to liven up the space – a plant, a nice mug, a cute knick-knack, a photo of your dog (or cat), a family photo, etc. There are so many big and little things we can do in our own space that can make coming to work a very enjoyable experience. For more ideas check out these links from:
Are there some spring cleaning tips you’d like to share with us? We’d love to hear them! Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or let us know in the comments below.
Stay safe and healthy,
The PLC Team