10 Things To Do With Your Down Time

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Working in the nonprofit industry is hard work. There are donors to court, databases to update, campaigns to plan, events to coordinate… and that’s just before lunch! All that work can mean mental exhaustion, but downtime is hard to come by when every minute counts. Here are 10 simple (mostly productive) ideas that can give you a break.

1. Browse Twitter

Reading the latest celebrity tweets probably isn’t the best use of your time, but Twitter can be an amazing resource for nonprofit staff. Check out some popular industry hashtags for fundraising tips, donor retention ideas, and nonprofit news. Some excellent hashtags include #nonprofit, #nptech, and #fundraising. The possibilities are endless, and chances are good that you’ll find some helpful advice.

2. Revamp Your Materials

Take 5-10 minutes to spruce up the text on your site, newsletter, blog, or appeal e-mails. Proofreading your material after you’ve been deeply involved in another project is a great way to look at your copy with a fresh pair of eyes. Give it a once over; replace tired words with new ones, double-check your commas, or rephrase a confusing sentence. It only takes a few minutes!

3. Look at Baby Animals

No joke! Looking at cute baby animals helps increase concentration. It’s fun AND productive! Check out this article from Nonprofit Tech for Good for some adorable pictures. That baby seal will make you smile AND make you more effective when you get back to your to-do list.

4. Write Thank-You Cards

Donor retention is one of the biggest challenges faced by nonprofits. Show your donors a little extra love with handwritten thank-you cards. It’s a perfect way to take a break from a big project; notes don’t have to be long, flowery, or complicated, and writing with ink and paper can give your eyes a rest after looking at your computer for hours.

5. Thank Your Volunteers on Facebook

Posting a photo or a quick “thank you” status only takes a few minutes, but it can have a huge impact. Keep your volunteers engaged by showing your appreciation for them on your social sites. You get great content, they get a shout out for their hard work, and future volunteers see that you’ll appreciate their involvement.

6. Tidy Your Desk

Keeping a tidy desk space can help boost creativity and minimize stress. Getting up to file backlogged paperwork or dust your bookshelf is a good way to rest your eyes and get your blood moving if you’ve been sitting for long periods of time.

7. Browse Fundraiser Grrl

If you need a laugh, Fundraiser Grrl can deliver. The site is managed by Rory Green, a nonprofit development officer, and pairs common fundraising challenges and victories with hilarious .gifs. It’s guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.

8. Catch Up On Your Nonprofit News

Make sure your nonprofit stays up-to-date with fundraising news, trends, and reports by browsing industry news sites. The NonProfit Times, Nonprofit Quarterly, and NTEN are great places to start. You can also check out Alltop or search nonprofit keywords on Topsy. There are hundreds of great sites out there!

9. Play 2048

If your boss asks, just tell them you’re working on your math skills. That’s productive… right?

10. Call a Donor

If you’ve been cooped up in your office all day, you might be craving a little human interaction. Put that impulse to good use and give one of your donors a call. Ask them for input, give them updates about what you’ve done with their money, or just ask if they have any questions; they’ll appreciate that you’re thinking about them.

Mental fatigue can make you less efficient in the office and cause employee burnout. Take care of yourself by taking a little downtime when you feel like you need a break. You can make your downtime refreshing and productive!

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