Financial Management

Meeting productivity improves with donor management software

In order to encourage and uphold a sense of community within a nonprofit, organizations should adopt donor management software. A reliable data-tracking and reporting system not only improves communication, it turns routine meetings into more productive decision-making sessions.

Businesses often get caught in a revolving door of mundane and ineffective meetings. Weekly gatherings become repetitive and team members grow too busy to contribute meaningful energy and information. To change things and turn their nonprofit around, board members should consider the following:

Shorter is better
As noted by A Small Change, unless a meeting is only scheduled quarterly or set up to cover a particular topic in-depth on one occasion, it should be short. Getting to the point sooner rather than later will keep attendees invested the whole time.

“Make sure each meeting tackles a specific issue or goal.”

Punctuality is contagious.
Meetings should always start and end on time. This is courteous to everyone in attendance, as it’s no secret that nonprofit professionals are very busy. Even if there are staff members arriving late on a regular basis, turning punctuality into a habit is possible. The key is maintaining a consistent practice of beginning and ending as scheduled. If arriving late is a habit, meetings will typically end late, too. This becomes incredibly frustrating for all parties involved and doesn’t set a good tone for discussions.

Launch with the mission.
Many meetings revolve around routine reports, new project details and budgeting numbers. Jumping right into reciting data isn’t an upbeat approach starting out. Instead, The Fundraising Authority suggested launching each meeting with a sentiment, story or update directly related to the mission in a positive way. The mission is the reason the organization exists in the first place; it’s the motivating factor for each committee member and the glue that holds the group together.

Informed staff contribute more.
Agendas are terrific tools that help inform attendees on discussion topics beforehand, keep meetings on task and help presenters prepare if necessary. Setting up an agenda and distributing it to all employees, perhaps even among those that do not need to be present, creates a greater sense of cohesion within the nonprofit. When staff feel informed and prepared, they are more likely to offer up solutions to dragging issues and speak up throughout the conversation. Participatory team members are much more valuable than silent ones.

Specificity yields productivity.
Agendas should not be vague or general. If weekly meetings repeatedly use the same schedule over and over, the lack of productivity will reflect that. Make sure each meeting tackles a specific issue or goal. Again, ensure all attendees have the relevant information needed for discussion before they arrive in the conference room. This eliminates wasting time and redundancy. In addition, if it turns out that participants run out of topics at every Monday morning meeting, considering holding that meeting bi-weekly instead.

Avoid mundane meetings by staying on task and distributing updates beforehand.

There is strength in sharing.
During board meetings, make sure one or two members are not dominating the entire discussion. This leads to a limited perspective on solving issues and a sense of disengagement among remaining participants. Delegate certain tasks around the room and make sure everyone is on the same page. Encourage those who haven’t offered solutions yet to speak or give feedback.

Focus on decisions. 
One common misconception is that updating a nonprofit board is a productive use of a scheduled discussion. In fact, this tends to waste a majority of the time allotted for a particular meeting. Use the time the board is together to make solid decisions. Send out updates within the agenda or information packet pre-meeting.

Donor management software provides nonprofits with the tools they need to effectively track data, interpret it and generate reports. This helps keep all staff and board members informed and capable of offering strong input during meetings throughout the year.