CALMNotBUSYBack in August, I offered a new mantra for nonprofit communications pros: Get CALM.

Being CALM means being Collaborative, Agile, Logical, and Methodical.

C is for Collaborative.  Build listening into your ongoing routine. Help others in your organization see the big picture and how their parts fit into it. Create a clear process for working together that is easy and efficient.

A is for Agile. Expect the unexpected. Have clear lines of authority, delegation, and communication internally. Create content that is agile too.

L is for Logical. Integrate marketing and communications goals with programmatic and fundraising goals. Ground everything in a Quick & Dirty Marketing Plan. Follow best practices and experiment.

M is for Methodical.  Use an editorial calendar.  Set up systems and embrace tools that others can use and follow, with or without you. Find a personal productivity system that works for you.

But it’s really hard to get CALM if you are still hanging on to the old ways of working, or the glorification of “busy.”

Nonprofit communicators constantly complain about how busy they are, and how not having enough time holds them back. I get it, trust me, I really do.

But you and I and everyone else all get the same number of hours in a day.  I think it’s time for a little tough love on this one, for you, for me, and for our sector as a whole.

When you give in to the idea that BUSY is normal and a legitimate way to work in this job, here’s what I think you are actually embracing, especially as a nonprofit communicator:

B is for Bogus. It’s bogus to think that all of that busy activity equals accomplishment. It doesn’t. We’ve always urged you to focus on accomplishments not activities in your annual reports, and it’s no different here.  Just because you are running all the time, reading every tweet and attending every meeting, doesn’t mean you are getting anywhere or getting anything done. Set real goals and work toward those, tracking your progress toward them, not just your general busyness.

U is for Unrealistic. We think we can get more done in less time and with fewer resources than we really can. In the nonprofit sector, this too often morphs from asking people to be resourceful to expecting miracles. Then people fall short, and we blame them personally.  It’s also the leading cause of martyr syndrome.

S is for Sidestepping. We — and the people we work for — avoid making the hard choices about priorities, constantly sidestepping those conversations and decisions. We want to do it all, but that’s not possible, nor is it strategic. Real leaders choose.

Y is for Yoked.  We are yoked, or chained, to things and habits that actually make it harder to get good work done. They constantly pull us in the wrong direction by distracting us. Chief among these are always-on devices and always pinging email and social notifications. But bad habits like meetings that, by default, always last a full hour also yoke us.  Bad assumptions about ourselves and others yoke us too.

Which would you rather be?

BUSY: Bogus, Unrealistic, Sidestepping, and Yoked?


CALM: Collaborative, Agile, Logical, and Methodical?

Nonprofit Marketing Guide is here to help you go from BUSY to CALM. We are building this into everything we do in 2016 from blogging, to our All-Access Training Pass, to our Communications Director Mentoring Program.

Let us know how we can help!




Published On: November 9, 2015|Categories: General|