Insights
2 min Read
September 4, 2013

Why big rocks rock.

Madeleine Milan

These are exciting times for nonprofit communicators. There are so many new opportunities to connect with your supporters, learn more about what makes them tick, and get them fired up about the great work you do, but so little time to do it all.

Diving into your website analytics, segmenting your email list, investigating the latest social platform, doing audience research, planning your year-end fundraising campaign, reading the latest whitepaper… you’re excited to do all of it, but how do you find the time amidst everyday things like writing your email newsletter or posting to your Facebook page? And where do you start?

It might sound overly simple, but one of the best ways to get on top of it all is to tackle the big things first—the items on your to-do list that will have the biggest impact on your communications.

It’s an idea that’s sometimes referred to as “big rocks first” (hat tip to Zen Habits, among other places we Ducks read about it).The basic principle is that you should focus on finding time to fit in the big things first (like planning your communications for the quarter), and then fit the smaller, less-important tasks in around them (like re-proofreading all of your scheduled tweets).

It works a little something like this:

  1. Make a list of the most important things you need to do to keep your nonprofit communicating as effectively as possible. Not the everyday tasks, but the things that you know will have a big impact on your communications (and which you’ve probably been putting off because you’re so busy).
  2. Identify the three to five most important.
  3. Look at your organization’s calendar for the next few months (or years) and figure out when you can tackle those most important projects.
  4. Make time every week to work on them—and fit the small, everyday things in around them until the bigger things are done (or at least well under way).

Sounds easy, but which “big rocks” should you start with? A few big things have come up again and again in our work with nonprofits that might start you thinking:

Thoughts on other high-value “big rocks” you know you should tackle but keep putting off to deal with smaller day-to-day tasks? Let us know in the comments.

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