This time of year, most non-profits are in overdrive providing meals, toys, shelter and support for the holiday season. You’re swamped and stretched pretty thin, so planning for the upcoming year may not be your top priority. However, January will be here before you know it and you’ll want to start off the year ahead of things, right? You could, and may need to, conduct a strategy session to really think through the direction you want to take your organization next year. That’s a topic for another post. However, if you’ve already had that session or already have your goals set for the year I recommend that you start things off by creating a central calendar for your team.
Here’s what needs to be on the calendar:
- Events – Any event you’re planning to conduct such as fundraisers, celebrations, volunteer appreciation nights, etc.
- Maintenance projects – These are the mundane items that we tend to put off until there’s an emergency. Examples include building maintenance, hardware / software upgrades, equipment safety checks, etc.
- Communications – If you send out newsletters (either via email or snail mail), add those deadlines to the calendar. Also note when you’ll want to start advertising events.
- Facility usage – If you allow other groups or individuals to use your facilities, note the dates that have already been reserved and by whom. This will help prevent confusion and double-bookings.
- Staff development – Find out what conferences are coming up that you’d like members of your team to attend and add those dates to the calendar. Also find times that are a bit less hectic and look into training classes for your team. You should also schedule when you’ll do evaluations and career planning.
- Volunteer recruiting – Of course you’re always recruiting, but there may be certain times during the year that you really focus on this effort and do a major campaign for new volunteers. Add those times to the calendar.
- Vacation plans – If you have this information already available, go ahead and add in when each team member plans to take vacation.
- Church-specific events – When will you have baby dedications, baptisms, new member orientation, etc.? Do you have weddings booked already? Add those to the calendar.
This is just a list to get you started – I’m sure you’ll have more items to add to your calendar. Create and maintain this calendar electronically – either in your network’s email system such as Outlook (you can create a separate calendar that’s read-only to most of your team) or you could create a Google calendar. Determine who owns the calendar and is responsible for keeping it up-to-date. This person should check-in with the entire team at least monthly to gather updates. Planning ahead and communicating the calendar to your entire team will foster better communication between departments and can help you see beforehand if you’ve booked too much in a short period of time. You’ll always be busy but investing the time to plan the upcoming year now will help you achieve your goal.