Nonprofit Project Management Introduction
There are basic steps to great nonprofit project management. Think of it as a continuous cycle that just keeps repeating. Project management fits into every scenario - Yes, even into church and nonprofit management.
Occasionally with consulting I run into the myth that because the nonprofit sector is highly relational it can’t or shouldn’t be managed like a business. I then challenge leaders’ perception of what it means to run a business.
When running a nonprofit, there may be elements that feel too “corporate” to integrate into your operations. Just because you create structure and processes doesn’t mean you have to relinquish relationships or warmth in your leadership style. There are so many principles of running a business that can take your ministry to the next level.
Establish healthy project management systems before you begin integrating contract staff. Freelancers and contractors work well with deadlines and systems. The clearer you can communicate expectations and establish accountability, the greater impact a freelancer can make for your organizaion.
Here are 5 basic steps of clear nonprofit project management you probably already do, but we are going to break it down today:
Ideation - brainstorming sessions, deadlines for ideas, seasonal pushes, random ideas from a dream
Define and plan - a lot of the why’s and how’s and who’s. Evaluate brand and missional alignment as well as resources available, including people power. Determine what a win looks like.
Do it! - Assign roles, set deadlines, beta phases
Feedback and control - Who offers feedback? When and how does this happen? Refer back to step 3 of defining and planning. Are we are track to achieve our win or have we learned something that shifts the end goal?
The end - Continue cycling through steps 1-4 until the program launches or the new product is made available to the masses.
Let’s use a real life scenario.
One example could be that you want to create an exclusive community for monthly donors.
(Ideation) Great idea! Let’s start a club to entice people to funnel into a sustainable method of donating. Dreaming, vision-boarding...
(Define & plan) What should we call it? How do we brand the group? Who will manage the community? Where do we get exclusive content? What does a win mean? The list goes on.
(Do it!) Get it done! I am a huge fan of going live at 95%. Honestly you’ll never get everything EXACTLY the way you want it. Done is better than perfect. Set your launch date and go for it.
(Feedback & control) Team meetings, feedback from the community, marketing analytics because numbers don’t lie! Determine ahead of time how you will review the level of success. If you didn’t set your win at the beginning, you won’t know if you achieved anything.
It’s the end of this particular cycle, but the process repeats itself with whatever you learned from this go around.
Kanban is a visual way to move projects from one phase to another. This may or may not be helpful, at least during team meetings. I’ve talked a little more about kanban board in Episode 2, so you can listen to that for a little more information on setting up systems.
I strongly encourage utilizing work management systems to keep track of all of this. Within each phase you will probably have multiple people working on smaller tasks and there will be tons of little conversations over every aspect. Asana, Trello, and Basecamp are just a few of the dozens of available software. I’ll have links to all of these in the show notes as well.
Get in the habit of better and clearer project management so that everyone on your church or nonprofit team understands the process and where they are in this process at any time.
Check out some of my recommended work management systems and kanban boards in the show notes.
Work Management Systems