I recently moved from California to Colorado, and I found that in the three weeks before and the week after the move most of my time was taken up with move related details. I had very little time for anything else– including my giving circles. Fortunately, we managed to keep moving forward, and here are three tips that helped us function smoothly during that time.
1. Empower Others
Being the only person who can answer questions or give guidance will keep you busy and make your giving circle members dependent on your schedule. Empowering other members of your circle to perform certain tasks (nominating organizations, researching organizations, answering questions, communicating with members) will take some of the pressure off your shoulders, give your giving circle quicker responses when you’re not available, and encourage members to take ownership of the circle.
Some giving circles I’ve interviewed have co-presidents, and I think that’s a great way to share the work. Other giving circles don’t have defined leadership, but have lots of committees who are responsible for a particular activity.
What are you doing now that someone else could do or could help you with. Who in your giving circle is ready, willing, and able to take on more responsibility?
2. Simplify and Standardize
Do you have ongoing but low priority responsibilities such as newsletters or blogging? If you need to take a break from the weekly blogging (like I did), give yourself permission to not do it, set expectations with those who need to know, and pick it up again when your schedule opens up. You can also ask your giving circle members to take over the newsletter or ask experts to guest blog for you while you take a break.
The more complicated or unique things are, the more time and experience required to make things run smoothly. Are you the only person who understands how grant money is disbursed? Is your grant process more complicated than it needs to be?
What procedures can be made more simple and/or less formal? Would checklists or guides help members figure out the process without asking you for help?
3. Set Expectations
If you typically respond to emails immediately, and suddenly you need 24-48 hours to reply, people may worry about what’s going on. The solution is simple, let people know when things change in your life and in your schedule and what they can expect now.
What helps your giving circle function smoothly in your absence?