The Importance of Project Management
We’ve covered many topics! Grant writing basics, shifting framing based on audience type, external validators, and even the building blocks of relationship building. The glue that holds all of these key elements together is solid project management.
An organization’s development department (even if you’re a team of one!) is the drumbeat for sustainability. To ensure the livelihood of your organization you need resources, a clear understanding of how programming dovetails with the world of philanthropy, and a system to keep all of the critical pieces moving at a steady pace.
Burnout in the nonprofit world is a real threat, especially in the fast-paced world of fundraising. One thing that helps, is a well-ordered plan. I would suggest using a Gantt Chart to help you keep track of top line tasks and major times of the year. I’ve created a customizable template here as an example of something you can use. This can be used in combination with a strong database and software tools, to ensure you’re using data to support your priorities.
Casebook can pull together program level outcomes with involvement data, dynamic fields and demographics.
DARCI & The Gantt Chart
In the customizable Gantt Chart template below, you’ll notice a column in the chart marked “Accountable” that’s taken from the internal accountability and project management system called a “DARCI”. [Decision Maker, Accountable, Responsible, Consulted, Informed]. More information on DARCI’s applicability can be found here.
Overall, accountability is important. Knowing who is doing what is critical to the success of the organization, and the individual responsible for ensuring the completion of the activity in a time-bound and realistic manner is the ‘Accountable’ party.
The accountability party should have a clear sense of the goals of each section, and the tactical purpose of each activity. Helpful to understanding this knowledge base is historical information that can be bolstered by the use of a CRM. For example, in the Gantt Chart linked here you’ll find five main priority area categories within the 2022 Fundraising Calendar example:
Development Core Work — the tasks that directly support fundraising, cultivation and stewardship throughout the year
Finance Support — cross-department functions that focus on resource tracking and projections
Communications Support — annual donor engagement, campaigns and reporting projects
Staff PD — activities that build a shared understanding of development’s work and a culture of fundraising throughout the year
Board Support — governance and fundraising responsibilities of the board, prioritizing tasks that support the board’s understand of cultivation tactics and potential donor engagement
Seeing The Big Picture
Within the Finance Support category, organizations can identify that understanding their biggest programmatic resource pulls is critical to their success in the new year. In an effort to set priorities around what programs will be at the forefront of fundraising efforts, they need to evaluate the impact of programs and work with both the program and finance team to develop clear benchmarks and goals for the year. So for the first two weeks of the year the Finance Lead is Accountable for ensuring that the programmatic resource needs priorities are set. This impacts the fundraising and development department, so it is integrated into the fundraising calendar, however, there is a high-level of cross-team collaboration needed to accomplish this.
Casebook offers a robust case management function to enable the front line staff with an easy, daily tool to capture the activities they are undertaking and the outcomes that they are achieving. Casebook's report builder and dashboard developer offers development departments nearly real-time insight into operational and programmatic achievement, while also offering an ability to iterate on reports needed for specific internal and funder requirements.
Fundraising is a blend of the old fable The Tortoise and the Hare. Steady work with high pivot moments. A combination of both tactics helps you win the never-ending journey towards budget growth and clear sustainability. Strong project management allows for your team to get a clear sense of goals and when steady, and preparedness in advance of high-action moments. You can do this!
With strong collateral; philanthropy landscape knowledge; relationship and project management skills; combined with a powerhouse software solution like Casebook, you will thrive.