How to Take a Vacation…Without Your Computer

How to Take a Vacation…Without Your Computer

How to Take a Vacation…Without Your Computer

As a small shop it’s all hands on deck all the time. Taking vacations (or even small breaks) is crucial for your mental health and avoiding burnout. It is definitely easier said than done however. With. asmall team everyone is doing their own thing and it may seem like only you can do certain tasks. While that may be true, there are still ways you can set up your business and prep to take that much needed and much deserved time off.

This post will focus on your marketing efforts but can easily be translated to any type of priority you have on your plate.

Make a list of your tasks!

What is on your plate that only you can do? Be honest with yourself. As leaders there is a difference between what only you can do and what you’re unwilling to let go control of. For example, only I can host the podcast, it would be weird to have someone else fill in. But, I could have someone else help out with shownotes. I’ve created a system and they have examples to look at so they could do it themselves.

If you’re struggling with this part, do a time study for a week. Track everything you do and figure get real with where you’re spending your time. Is it on the right things? I understand you’re super passionate about your organization and want to put your best foot forward. You can’t increase your impact, let along take a vacation, if you don’t let some things go!

Group your tasks

Now that you know what you have on your list, group similar activities together. When you do similar tasks you are more productive with your time. You will also be able to figure out the systems you need to ensure that work can go on while you’re out of town.

To start building out your systems look at tasks that you’re repeating over and over. Figure out ways to automate those tasks. This alone will free up some space in your day and make it easy to separate during vacation.

Remember how you figured out what tasks only you can do? This is where you also offload things other people on your team can help with. You might have found in this exercise that several of you are working on similar elements in the organization. Lumping those together will help you make your entire crew more effecient.

What you should be left with are the tasks that only you can do and what you’ll need to pay attention to in order to take that much needed vacation.

Get prepped

More than likely you aren’t deciding to take a vacation tomorrow. Get intentional with your tasks so you can have all your elements lined up and ready to take a break. Batching tasks helps with getting more done with less time. This is a good practice to have in general regardless of if you’re planning for some days off or not.

This helps you get ahead of schedule, especially with marketing. We try and record and edit 2-3 podcasts at a time. That means that my editor can work on episodes all at once, I can create the show notes all at once, and we can create the promotional materials all at once. Then I have 2-3 weeks worth of content and only have to do it 1-2 times a month instead of weekly. It also helps with building better quality with less errors.

When it comes to leaving with your mind at ease, this also means that you’ll plenty of content ready to go for while you’re gone. Just as importantly, it means you won’t be scrambling to get things done as soon as you get back.

You can use this philosophy with so many different types of tasks! When you’re not prepping for a trip, approaching your tasks in this manor means that when “emergencies” come up, you’ll have the space in your schedule to handle them without sacrificing your core job responsibilities.

Leave resources behind

At the end of the day things will come up. There is no way you can plan, prep or determine all the things that might come up for your team. If you and your team have systems in place for where things live then it will be easier for them to find the information they need while you’re gone. If each employee keeps things in their own place organized in their own way that makes things confusing.

Start building out your knowledge base so that there is a reference place to be able to find things, and understand procedures for how things get done.

To start building this out, begin with your individual tasks that only you can complete. Write down the step-by-step actions you take to accomplish that task. This isn’t a quick process, so make sure you build out time in your week to continue to build this tool. Each employee should do this for their own tasks. This will also ensure you are consistently executing the tasks necessary to reach your goals.

Let go!

At the end of the day, being able to take a vacation, and a break from work, is as much a mental exercise as it is anything. Mentally prepare yourself to cut ties. Communicate with your team what constitutes and emergency so they know when to reach out (if at all). Set your out of office so people know who to get in touch with if they need something. Even better – a few weeks prior to your time out of office, put the dates in your email signature to start to prep people.

Then it’s on you to not check email, voicemails, etc. You have to let go and unplug or you won’t fully relax. Things might not go 100% the way you want them to, but I promise you your business will not crumble to the ground. 


If you put these simple steps into place you’ll be in a great place to take that summer vacation, long weekend, or stay cation, to refresh your mind, body and soul!

Evaluating Your Tech

Evaluating Your Tech

Evaluating Your Tech

‘Technology is everywhere, and in every facet of our business. It seems there’s hardly anything we can do that doesn’t involve some form of technology! As our businesses and organizations grow, so does our need for tech solutions. Unfortunately, it can get out of hand really quickly. You decided to get more serious about social media so you got scheduling software. Someone mentioned this new data tracking tool you had to try so you got that. A new course just launched to help you with new event planning tools so you bought that too. Then a few years later you have no idea what you’re even using, what you’re paying for, or what is even the best to support your biz!

Does any of this sound familiar!!!

Yes, technology can be a huge support, streamline and save you time. It can also be an extreme time suck and get expensive fast. This post will walk you through a tech audit and help you evaluate what tools you truly need.

What do you need to do day to day?

Now it might seem like and audit should start with what you already have. However, let’s start with a blank slate. Pretend you don’t have any tech tools and let’s create a list of what would be helpful for you in your daily activities. This would be a great activity for everyone on your team to do individually. For this purpose, your team could include board members or volunteers that are involved ain a regular capacity. Some areas you’ll want to think about include:

  • how you manage projects.
  • marketing activities.
  • fundraising support.
  • KPIs and what you need to track that.
  • donor nurturing.
  • donor management.
  • task management.
  • grant management.
  • online courses/resources.
  • event software.

You get the idea! Try and be specific if you can. For example, social media posting or social media analytics vs just social media.

Once you have your individual lists, complie them together and find common threads. Group your list so you can see the elements that are most common with your organization to the least. You’ve just created your priority list.

Create the list of tech you have.

Now it is time to complie the list of everything you currently have. Start with your credit card. Go through the past year and make a list of al the platforms you’re paying for. This is the easiest place to start because it will help you identify things you may have forgotten about.

Create a spreadsheet that includes:

  • Product name
  • URL
  • What it’s used for
  • Amount
  • Renewal Date
  • Notes

Make sure you connect with all members of your team for other memberships or resources they might also have. This could include membership dues for professional organizations or local organizations like a Chamber of Commerce. While these aren’t necessarily tech tools, they offer other resources that you may be paying for that could save you money.

Organize your tech tools by your biggest day to day priorities.

Now that you know what the biggest priorities are for you to accomplish and the areas that you and your team need the most support in, you can organize you tech tools by priority as well. You’ll start to see a good picture of what are the pieces of software you must have.

It may not be that you eliminate anything, but at least you know that everything you have you need.

At this point, I like to take a look at the bigger picture tools you’re using. This is typically your donor CRM, your financial software, a project management tool, and the software you’re using for day-to-day operations like email and your internal systems.

If its been a bit since you have signed up for these platforms they may have added additional features. Or, you may have opted out to some features due to cost. Now that you have a full list of costs for all your tools you can easily evaluate. The least amount of software you have in your organization the easier it is to get things done. 

You can also use this information to negotiate with companies to get new features at a better rate. For example, maybe you’re paying for SMS texting on one platform, but now your email marketing software offers that at a higher package. You know what you’re paying for the other platform so see if you can save money by lumping them altogether.

Cut what you don’t need

Now is the fun part! Time to save some $$$! Time to transfer the information from the tools you don’t need and shut it down. Tech changes so fast and reviewing regularly will help you make the most of your tools and make sure you aren’t spending more than you need.

Now that you know what you’re paying and know that it aligns with your teams needs, you might find you need to add new tools. Always start with what you already have to see if they have those capabilities. If you need to add software then use our tips for finding the right CRM. It can be applied for researching any platform you’re looking for.


Tech is a great way to save time and money but can get out of hand quickly. By auditing your tech needs at least once a year you can ensure your tech is helping to support your organization, not take away from it. For more tips on how to use tech to support your business listen to episode 175 of the Digital Marketing Therapy podcast.

Crafting Your Donor Follow Up Experience

Crafting Your Donor Follow Up Experience

Crafting Your Donor Follow Up Experience

Once a donor gives you their money, how are you following up with them? How are you thanking them and engaging with them to set you up for success with a second gift down the road? 

It is a lot of work getting new donors but the work doesn’t stop there. How you treat your donors once they’ve given makes a big impact on if they give again, regardless of gift size. You probably have a follow up plan for your major donors and corporate sponsors. Remember that you don’t always know the capacity of someone donating on your website – or who else they know. Nurturing donors that give $5 as well as major donors leads to better sustainability and pool of donors to connect with.

Having a combination of offline and online elements will be a great strategy to keep you moving forward. The best part is that some of it can be automated. This blog post will give you some ideas for things to consider with designing your own donor follow up experience.

Create an Experience Map

Determine what you want the donor experience to look like. Be on brand and have fun with it! The goal is to keep them engaged and part of your community. You may have a different experience for different types of donors. For example, monthly donors, foundations/grants, corporate sponsors, event attendees, etc.

Brainstorm ideas and then line them out for each different type. If you’re just getting started, start with one and then go from there.

It’s important to include offline and online elements. You can start with the ideas below! Once you have it all lined out, create a template in your CRM so people know when they need to do a task post donation and nothing falls through the cracks.

Donor Email Welcome Sequence

A donor welcome sequence is a series of emails that a donor gets after they have donated. It’s usually 5-7 emails over a period of a couple of weeks. The goal of this sequence is to share more impact stories, let them get to know your organization better and set expectations for how you’ll be communicating with them.

Welcome sequences can make a huge impact because the open rates on the first email are the highest of any email you’ll send in the future. This is a great way to connect and set the stage for how you treat your donors.

Listen to Episode 122 of the Digital Marketing Therapy Podcast for a deep dive on the welcome sequence.

The best part of these sequences is that they are automated and you don’t have to manage sending them out manually. Just remember to leave space in the timing of the emails for the other elements you include in the experience.

Personal Phone Call

Phone calls go a long way – and not a lot of nonprofits take this step. This call could come from your Executive Director, Development Director, Board Member, etc. Determine the right person based off of the type of gift. 

Even smaller gifts or new monthly donors should be getting 1:1 phone calls. This gives you an opportunity to make a personal connection with donors, ask questions and take notes of how you can better connect in the future.

Ask great questions:

  • why did you choose to give to our organization?
  • what part of our program excites you the most?
  • how do you like to be recognized?

The goal is to make it about them and find out how you can make them feel special in the future.

Thank You Cards

Handwritten cards are a great way to personalize thank yous. Plus people love getting mail that isn’t bills or junk! Again, this is something not a lot of organizations are doing.

You can utilize volunteers and board members for this, or it can also be automated with software like Handwrytten. While this isn’t free, it is a great low cost option to make a great impact.

Send Swag

Swag is a great way surprise and delight your donors and allow them to showcase their support for your organization. It doesn’t have to be expensive! Stickers are great and can be used everywhere. You could also create window clings for their business or car windows. Of course t-shirts are great because people wear them out and about. 

Just like with other elements here, pay attention to your budget and gift size. For example, you might send swag to your monthly donors after six months to acknowledge their dedication and say thank you.

Ongoing Email Newsletters

Once they’ve donated you want to connect with them regularly. That way when the next campaign comes around they have heard from you about impact and you’ve stayed top of mind.

Emails can go out at whatever cadence you can do consistently. We recommend at least twice a month, but weekly is even better. These newsletters can include your blog content, impact stories, industry updates, tips and more. The goal is to position you as the industry expert you are so they know you are the best suited to move the cause forward. 

The more consistently and regularly you send these emails the more often you can make an ask of your subscribers.


Your donors are the reason you are able to create impact. Nurturing them and engagement with them regularly will help you with your retention rates and keep your fundraising running smooth. While you don’t have to do all the things listed here, build in a donor experience you’re excited about and your donors will be excited too. 

Tips for Determining the Right CRM For Your Organization

Tips for Determining the Right CRM For Your Organization

Tips for Determining the Right CRM For Your Organization

Any time you’re adding technology to your business it can be stressful. There are so many options out there for everything and it can quickly get overwhelming and expensive! Avoid going down a rabbit hole that still leaves you with the wrong solution but utilizing some (or all) of these tips.

But first, what is a CRM?

CRM stands for customer relationship management. It is a tool you can use to organize your contacts, interactions, and data so you know who to reach out to and your whole team can have all the information at their fingertips.

For nonprofits, your CRM can manage data related to your donors, volunteers, event attendees, sponsors, foundations, etc. It helps keep you organized because everything is all in one space. If you talk to five different nonprofits they’ll probably give you five different solutions and quickly it can get confusing.

Start with what your organization needs.

Before you even begin researching CRM platforms make a list of things that your organization needs. Start with the things that you need right now. You could also make a list of things you anticipate needing 1-3 years in the future.

For example, you may have most of your funding come from foundations and grants but are looking to expand into more individual giving. Or maybe you aren’t holding any major events right now, but know you have on in the works for next year. Maybe you have online giving but are looking to add text-to-give as well.

Each platform is going to have its pros and cons in all areas so knowing what you truly need from a platform will help you weed through them all.

Make a list of all the tech platforms you’re currently using.

Integration is key to save you time, money and headaches. Having the least amount of different software programs is ideal. You’ll want to think about how your CRM talks to your website and your email marketing. Does it automatically sync with your event software? Platforms will have their integrations listed easily on their websites so having that list of the other programs you’re using will make it easy to prioritize platforms quickly.

Here is a list of some of the tools you may be using:

  • Online giving platform on your website.
  • Email marketing (MailChimp, ConvertKit, etc).
  • On site event software.
  • Online auction tool.
  • SMS texting
  • Peer-to-Peer fundraising platform.
  • eCommerce.
  • Learning management system.
  • Accounting software
  • Payroll
  • Zapier (to connect multiple platforms together).

Determine your rough budget.

You should go into your research with a rough budget. Once you start researching you’re going to see so many fun exciting perks at higher levels. Remember that it’s their job and goal to get you to buy bigger and bigger packages! Having your budget (and required features) handy can help you avoid shiny object syndrome.

The second thing you’ll want to put together is the cost of the other platforms you are using. Your CRM might be able to absorb some of those features. Knowing what you spend on those other tools will help you determine what you can spend on your CRM.

Build your tracking sheet

Once you start researching things will start to blend together. You’ll start to forget what features you liked about what platform, what was missing, etc. A simple spreadsheet can help you track the tools you find so you can remember why you liked (and didn’t like) certain options.

Make sure you include all your criteria on there so you can clearly see the pros and cons of each platform as well as the tools you need it to integrate. 

Start your research.

You finally have all the information you need to start your research! There are so many different options out there it can get overwhelming. Once you start marking off those check boxes on your spreadsheet a clear winner will emerge.

There are a few places you can go that will give you reviews. We like G2 and Capterra as examples. They give great comparisons and make it easy to find the information you need quickly.

When it comes to choosing a solution we recommend finding a platform geared towards nonprofits. Yes you can use other platforms, but if you want something you can start and ramp up quickly then one focused on nonprofits’ needs is usually best.

Ask for referrals.

Once you’ve narrowed it down to 2-3 different platforms then its time to get some referrals. There are a couple of ways you can do that. The first is to ask the software company if they have folks you can chat with. The second is to ask your colleagues that use that software what they think. Both will provide you with great insights on how they actually use the platform and what you might want to consider.

Chat with your team to determine impact for all departments.

Once you have it dialed down to your top two it’s time to chat with the larger team. A CRM will impact the entire team’s job and way they get things done. There may be parts of their job that this could affect that you hadn’t considered. 

Getting feedback from the team with the information you have learned is a critical step to ensuring you get buy in and it truly hits the needs you are hoping for!

Negotiate pricing!

 Hopefully by now you have a solid choice! Don’t forget that you can always negotiate pricing. Talk with a sales rep and figure out what they can do to help you hit your goals and fit your budget.


When it comes to a CRM you want to take your time and make sure it hits all the things. That includes cost, time to implement, and easy of use, amongst other things. With these tips you’ll have a less stressful time figuring out what’s best for your organization and will help you grow and scale.

Get More Traffic to Your Donation Page

Get More Traffic to Your Donation Page

Get More Traffic to Your Donation Page

Your donation page is a frictionless way for people to give to your organization anywhere at any time. Simply having a giving page on your website isn’t enough to get website visitors to take action. If you want ideas for how to best utilize your donation page, make sure to check out episodes 206 – 209 of the Digital Marketing Therapy podcast.

This blog post will give you ideas for how you can drive more website traffic to your donation page!

Add it to your main menu navigation

Putting it in your main menu navigation makes it easy for people to find it whether it is their first time visiting your website, or they are a repeat visitor. Put it on the far right of your navigation. As a best practice, the outside elements of your menu navigation are where the eye goes first.

Pro tip: put a color behind “donate” in your menu navigation. That will make it pop even more and draw peoples’ eyes there.

Add it to your footer

Your footer isn’t just the place for your contact information. It is also a place for people to go to get all the quick links and acces they need. Make sure you have it clear and obvious for people to click on.

Pro tip: put it next to seals from platforms like GuideStar that give build trust with your fiscal responsibility.

Use it as a Call-To-Action in Your Long Form Content

Hopefully you’re creating content on a regular basis. It could be a blog, YouTube video, podcast, etc. While the content itself isn’t promoting giving it is totally acceptable to have a button, link, or call out your donation page. Try something like, “if you have learned something from this podcast, consider contributing to our organization so we can support more families.”

Pro tip: create a graphic that you can use on your blog posts so you don’t have to recreate the wheel each time. Use it at the bottom of your posts or in the middle if it’s a longer piece of content.

Add it to your events page

Your events are super important for raising funds but also building relationships with your donors. While the priority for the events page on your website is to give people information on the event, get sponsors and sell tickets, not everyone that lands on that is going to be able to attend. Try adding language at the bottom that gives those people an opportunity to still contribute. That could look like inviting them to give, with a link to your donation page. Or you could drive them to your online auction page if you have one.

Share it on you social media profiles

The name of the game is making it easy to find so people can give in the moment they are ready to. Use you donate page link in all your profiles of your social media platforms. That way people can see it easily. You could also create a great pinned post that shares the overall impact of your organization and giving levels.

Include it in the footer of your email newsletters

While we don’t want all our emails to be an ask that doesn’t mean that you can’t have an option for people to still give. Having a button that is in your email footer just makes it easy for people to find it…yet again! If you’re sharing your impact in your emails regularly you never know what stories will encourage your readers to give.

Make sure the URL is easy to say

If you have a really long URL for your donation page than it’s hard to rattle off or for people to remember. If you’re meeting one on one or live on video then having an easy URL helps. There are lots of tools you can use to create a different URL for your donation page. Make it easy like so people can remember it.


The more you talk about your donation page the more traffic you’ll drive to it and the more money you’ll raise. Its all about making a conscious choice to have it in as many places as possible.

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