Busy, Busy

Busy.  Busy busy.  Busy busy busy.  I could learn to hate that word. I especially hate it when someone tells me that they are too busy to do something that they are supposed to be doing.  In my experience, that is generally the one person who is decidedly NOT too busy.  Indeed, you know that old saw—if you want something done…ask the busiest person you know.

Years ago, I was managing a business, going to school, AND I was a single mom.  And yet, somehow, I was the one parent who managed to go on every class trip.  It’s not because I am well organized.  Believe me. I am not.  But I was and am pretty good at triage.

Of the things I think I need to do, what are the things I really do need to do?  When do I need to do them?  What is the most effective way to do what I have to do?

Implicit in knowing what you need to do is having clarity on what you are supposed to accomplish.

I cannot begin to tell you how many development directors tell me they are too busy to get out in front of their donors.  And they don’t have the time to “babysit” their Board members, who, after all, are supposed to be fundraising.  And how busy could they—the Board members--be?  I mean, we only recruited them because they are affluent and/or influential, and those things don’t take time.

OK, I am ranting.  With cause.

I see so many organizations that are going to end this year in the red because everyone was too busy to create a serious, effective fundraising plan.  Why bother?  They would have been too busy to follow it anyway.  I have had clients who were too busy to meet, because their organization is going down the tubes, and somehow they cannot connect the dots—they hired me to help them build a sustainable fundraising program, but they are too busy to take the necessary steps.

Mercifully, these are the minority, but still, it makes me mad.

Most nonprofits exist because there is a serious need for the work they do.  And it important that they be able to meet their mission.  That, of course, takes money.  Ensuring sustainable streams of revenue is a critical piece of managing a nonprofit.  But somehow it is the one piece that too many nonprofit leaders miss.

They are good, sometimes great, at program.  They speak articulately and passionately to their cause.  They inspire, but they aren’t always savvy about the business side of the house.  Too many nonprofits don’t bring in enough funding—charitable or otherwise—to effectively make a real difference.  Instead of high impact, they show promise; instead of building, they hang on for dear life.

As we come to the end of one year and head into the next, consider how busy you are.  And think about how to ensure that you are busy doing to right and important things—the things that will not just keep your nonprofit’s doors open, but ensure that you are reaching out as far as you can.


Janet Levine works with nonprofits and educational organizations, helping them to increase their fundraising capacity, meet their goals and change the world for the better.  Learn more at http://janetlevineconsulting.com