02.19.2014

Spend more time on your mission, less time filing papers

I recently had drinks with an old friend who had worked for many years in the nonprofit sector before moving into another sector. I asked him what influenced his decision to make the switch from helping families cope in therapy to designing ads for Nike. I was surprised to hear that the reason for his moving away from the nonprofit world was the overwhelming amount of administrative energy that goes into managing a nonprofit organization, which he felt took away the focus of their mission. I was shocked! And heartbroken to hear something as little as the process of filing papers, could take away from the heart of what it was all about….

As a project manager here at ThinkShout, we structure our website redesigns to help nonprofits get the biggest bang for their buck by developing platforms that work to the advantage of the organization’s operational, fundraising and communication needs. One of my biggest goals as a project manager is to expose our clients to the technologies that help them focus and drive their mission and to succeed in their redesign projects.

Technology consulting is about stretching the possibilities of what you can accomplish and how you are accomplishing it. Working with forward-thinking clients, and understanding their limitations, helps me find the best resources and solutions to their needs to break that barrier.

To circle back to the reason I am writing this blog, if my friend would have told me the barriers and limitations their nonprofit organization was facing, as a project manager in the technology industry for the nonprofit sector, I would have happily been able to offer solutions. Below are my top four suggestions for project management tools that I find especially beneficial in the nonprofit world. All of these are affordable and easy to manage and scale. They work well for nonprofit project needs, freeing up admin time so that nonprofit staff can focus on their mission.

Podio

Podio is a cloud based work platform that helps organize workflow with your external and internal project teams. If your organization is looking for a platform with more customization, I have found that Podio is a great resource. The idea behind Podio platform is about building your dashboard and/or projects to your own functionality of use, through applications.

Redbooth

Redbooth is a cloud based project collaboration tool. Here at ThinkShout, we currently use Redbooth because it’s easily transferable to clients of any technical level and no additional setup is required. Redbooth also highlights their security feature; monitored 24/7, so all your stored data and shared files are accessible only to you and your assigned project members.

Mavenlink is a cloud based team collaboration and project management application. Nonprofits that are heavy in team collaboration and networking, Mavenlink would be a great choice. They also have a tight financial integration, which is great for nonprofits to keep track of their funding ins/outs and plan for future needs.

Basecamp

Basecamp is a cloud based project management tool. If your organization uses several types of computer and communication platforms, Basecamp is a great tool that can comply with almost any interface (MAC, PC, Android, iPhone, Email…the list goes on).

Conclusion

I’m still sad to thinking about how my friend moved on because of the daily frustrations with organizational infrastructure. And I know he couldn’t be the only person that stopped fighting for a cause because the mission became second in line to the administrative and project needs. It shouldn’t be like that, ever. I don’t think people talk about it much because it seems so insignificant compared to their mission, but the reality is it can kill the mission as fast as it can start it. I encourage you to start thinking about how these tools, and so many others out there, can really help realign your organization for success, not only for your overall mission, but for the people that make that mission possible.

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