ideas to keep summer productive

How your nonprofit can still be productive this summer

Many businesses struggle to stay productive in the summer. With school out, family trips, new sports, better weather—it’s no wonder you don’t want to sit at your desk. Some businesses go with “summer hours” but we all know that’s a bit more challenging in the crazy nonprofit world. Instead of just pushing through, we suggest adjusting some expectations from the get-go and working with the season. We pulled together some research from FastCompany, the Nonprofit Marketing Guide and Nonprofit Hub to consider in order to help with summer nonprofit productivity.

1. Plan with the season

A major reason we struggle to be as productive as we hope to in the summer is we approach the workplace as we would with any other season. Given that the summer’s qualities are entirely different than other seasons, it needs a whole different approach. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan.

  • Vacations: You know there will be far more people taking family trips in the summer. Instead of cruising through as if you’re not missing a team member, map out everyone’s vacations as soon as you can and prioritize projects based on that schedule.
  • Recognize there will be downtime: Just as your office as team members out, other people you work with will, too. Make sure to have some projects in mind to work on while you wait to hear back from donors, partners of your nonprofit and the like. This could include finally organizing your CRM, filing cabinet or computer.
  • Prioritize what matters: Rather than pretending you can accomplish as much as you always do, list your top priorities for the summer. Typically, these should be the things that help your nonprofit stay strong. In most cases, that’s development and donor relations. Start with those top priorities and recognize the others on the list might have to wait until the season changes.

2. It’s a sprint, not a marathon

In his book, leadership coach Peter Bregman suggests this approach: think of the summer in terms of intervals.

“Work super hard for several days and accomplish a Herculean amount, then take several days off and enjoy the sun and surf,” he states. “Work hard, rest well. The hard work will keep you from being distracted by the temptations of summer, while the days off will help you enjoy those temptations.”

Many of us feel guilty to take time away, but if the weather is beautiful and your family and relaxation time is calling, it may be counterproductive to try to stay behind your desk and count down the hours until you can leave. If you accept that you need a day off and work super hard to get things done before you take it, you’ll likely accomplish just as much, if not more. Likewise, if you know your nonprofit doesn’t have the ability to give you a full-on vacation, take mini vacation opportunities. Maybe this is a longer lunch with a colleague where you take a walk after or an afternoon off to hit the beach. Those little moments can make a difference.

FastCompany’s research also adds that you can pare your to-do list down to bite-sized pieces. So 15-30 minute to-do’s that don’t feel as overwhelming. You can even use this tactic to break down larger projects into digestible parts.

3. Ebb and flow with the weather

Similarly, as the author of Unstuff Your Life, Andrew Mellen points out, doing tasks according to the weather can help. There will be days you just can’t resist the sunshine, so maybe work in the office in the morning and get outside in the afternoon to finish up yard work. If it’s rainy all weekend, take your work home and get it done when you have no desire to be outside.

4. Create with the season

Another instance where you shouldn’t ignore the summer is in your ideas for marketing content. Kivi Leroux Miller of Nonprofit Marketing Guide brought up questions to ask to get your ideas rolling. In her post, she has you ask questions to get in touch with how your donors, volunteers and partners might be feeling during this season. This includes things like:

  • “How does hot weather impact your services or your clients? Can you offer advice to your readers about anything related to summer heat?”
  • “How can your readers integrate your issue into their summer vacation plans?”

Staying in tune with your audience will not only help your blog and newsletter content speak to them, it’ll also be more fun to write.

5. Get inspired

If you’re wanting more tips to stay at the top of your game this summer, it might be worth your time to check out a recorded webinar from Nonprofit Hub. They talk through some ideas to help you feel productive yet refreshed during the season.

For help during your summer hours, reach out to ArcStone! We’d love to work with you on your marketing and web needs.