The 6 Biggest Time Wasters for Nonprofits (And How to Avoid Them)

We work with nonprofits of all sizes, and we’re constantly amazed by how much they’re able to get done. But no matter how productive you are in your organization, you probably find yourself wishing there were more minutes in the day… well, just about every day.

We can’t extend every day to 25 hours so you can get more done, but what we can do is share our insights into the sneaky tasks that are sucking precious time out of your day — so you can avoid them and take back that time to work on the things that really matter.

Here are the six biggest time wasters for nonprofits (and how you can avoid them):

Time Waster #1: Going for the DIY Fix on Your Website

You see something wrong with your website. So, wanting to be proactive, you try to fix it.

This might seem like the best logical step, but in fact, it’s one of the biggest time wasters in the nonprofit industry.

You’re not a developer. So why are you trying to do a developer’s job? The truth is, what seems like a “simple” fix on your website could actually be extremely complex. It could take a web developer hours to figure out and fix the issue — and for someone without any web development experience? It could take an entire day.

The point is, trying to fix something on your website when you have no experience in the development world is a huge waste of time; it will take you significantly longer to find and address the problem than it would take a developer — and that’s time you could be spending working on other things.

The best way to avoid this time trap? Using a tool that makes updating your website easy, like WordPress. When you use a system like WordPress, you don’t have to worry about messing with the code if something goes wrong. Making changes is easy, and if you get stuck on an issue, there’s plenty of support to help you figure out what’s going on.

Time Waster #2: Managing Passwords

Another huge time waster? Managing passwords.

As a nonprofit, you likely have a ton of different logins and passwords; you have a login for your website, for your fundraising platform, for your CRM, for each plug-in… It can be a lengthy list. And keeping track of all those passwords can waste a ton of time.

The solution to wasting time staying on top of your passwords is simple — you’ve got to get organized. You can use a password tool like LastPass to generate secure passwords and keep track of all your logins — that way, you don’t have to waste a single second trying to remember or searching for a long forgotten username or password.

Time Waster #3: Unnecessary Meetings

Have you ever walked into work and looked at your calendar — only to realize that a solid 75% (or even 95%) of your day was blocked off for meetings?

You’re not alone.

Unnecessary meetings are one of the biggest time wasters for nonprofits. Because the truth is, most of what happens in an hour-long meeting can be resolved in a few minutes over email.

The only way to avoid falling down the meeting rabbithole is to be more discerning about the meetings you take.

When someone sends a meeting request, first ask yourself if a meeting is necessary or if the issue could be resolved with a few emails. If the meeting is necessary, the next question becomes whether you need to be there. If one of your team members could just as easily fill you in after the meeting instead of you spending an entire hour sitting in, get the updates later — and take that time to do something more productive.

Time Waster #4: Implementing Integrations

Website integrations are amazing; they extend the functionality of your website, add all sorts of cool features, and make things easier for your visitors to navigate.

But trying to implement them yourself? Big mistake.

Implementing integrations should, in theory, be quick. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can easily find yourself spending hours and hours trying to get things up and running before realizing you’ve gotten nowhere.

If you want to avoid this time suck, do yourself a favor and leave integration implementation to the professionals. They can get it done in a jiffy — and you don’t have to worry about losing time trying to figure things out on your own.

Time Waster #5: Going Through the RFP Process

There’s not many things more time-consuming in the nonprofit world than the RFP process.

There’s putting together the call for RFPs, going through the dozens of responses — most of which are from underqualified agencies — and trying to filter out the noise, going back and forth with the board to get approval on the right partner… It takes up a ton of time. And often, it’s not time well spent.

The RFP process is unavoidable — and it will take some time. But you can streamline things so you don’t waste any time during the process.

Set clear criteria for who can respond to your RFP so you don’t waste hours going through proposals from agencies that aren’t the right fit. Delegate a good chunk of the screening process to your team so you only have to review highly qualified candidates. Only present your board with the top two or three options to cut down on the back and forth.

You can’t avoid spending time on the RFP process — but you can avoid wasting time.

Time Waster #6: Not Naming Files Correctly

One of our personal pet peeves, and one that wastes everyone’s time, is not naming (or renaming) files correctly.

Rather than keeping the default file name (e.g. IMG3467 or Screen Shot 2018-04-10), adding a few keywords in the title can save your team tons of time when they’re looking for the images later. For example, photos of an event could be named “event-runathon-women-running-maria-johnson” to help your team easily identify exactly what’s in the image.

Want to save even more time? Here’s a quick tutorial showing you how to rename multiple images at once (That one’s for Mac, but here’s the tutorial for Windows if you need it!)

Time Waster #7: Getting Everyone on the Same Page

In the nonprofit world, you need to get a lot of people on the same page — like your team and the board — before you can move forward with any major decisions, including making a change to your website. And that can take a LOT of time.

Instead of spending the time doing it yourself, take that time back and outsource the approval process to your agency. Ask your agency to put together an approval document you can present to your board and other team members, then have them follow up and make sure they have everyone’s approval before moving forward.

The more you can outsource these kinds of tasks to your agency, the less time you have to spend doing it yourself — and the more time you’ll get back to work on more important projects.

There’s no way to magically make more time appear during the day. But now that you know the six biggest time wasters for nonprofits (and how to avoid them), you have everything you need to identify the time sucks during your day — and take back that time to work on the things that really matter.

Shane Michael

Author Shane Michael

Shane Michael is a creative entrepreneur with a passion for making businesses and nonprofits grow. As the co-founder and Executive Director of Mittun, you'll see his face floating around a lot on here.

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