Do it NOW

UntitledWhen I first went to work in the nonprofit sector, I was surprised at how the word immediately, as in “I need this immediately,” was translated. Coming from the for profit world, immediately meant NOW. But that, I found and still often find, is not the case in our world. Immediately seems to mean anywhere from “in a few hours,” to “ sometime in the next several weeks,” or, in worst case scenario, months.

This lack of urgency is usually explained away as a result of being too busy, too overwhelmed by everything on ones plate. I think that is a poor excuse.

I do get it. Everyone is terribly, terribly busy. But really smart people understand it is first about settings priorities. Secondly it has to do with communicating to others what those priorities are, and how other things—like the thing they just asked you to do—fit within those priorities.

In order to set priorities, of course, you have to have a clear sense of what it is you are supposed to be accomplishing, It would be lovely if your job description spelled that out. If you had a job description. But even if you do, usually it doesn’t (and it is so tempting here to go off an a tangent about hiring, job seeking, and all that).

Your boss may be of help, but if your boss is like most of mine were, the critical priorities tend to be the things the boss needs you to do, and then everything else that is on your plate.

So set your own. And then make your priorities clear to everyone else.

As I was preparing to write this, I looked up “setting priorities,” and “setting job priorities,” and what I got was a got of articles and blogs on how to complete tasks. I also go a lot of hits talking about the Covey system of Urgent Vs Important—something I agree with but…

The but is that before you can prioritize tasks, you really have to have a clear understanding of what it is that you need to be doing.

Most of my work surrounds fundraising. And I see this lack all the time. People frantically working on something….but it is often the wrong something. Wrong as in worrying about table decorations for your gala instead of getting sponsors. Or trying to figure out just the right pitch instead of getting out there and getting to know your prospects and donors (who, by the way, don’t want to be pitched. They want to be heard).

Figure out what, exactly, are you supposed to be accomplishing? If you are a fundraiser, I’m going to guess that raising money is what your job is all about.

How are you going about that? If you don’t have a plan, create one (and email me if you don’t know what a plan should look like).

And then go about working that plan. Immediately. As in NOW.


Janet Levine works with nonprofits, helping them to increase fundraising results. Learn how she can help you get off the dime and raise funds at While there, sign up for the free newsletter and contact Janet for a free 30 minute consultation.