This year, when we explored the topic of nonprofit communications capacity in blog posts, LinkedIn discussions and during our most recent #NPMC Twitter chat, a recurring theme was ‘not enough time to get everything done’. So for our last post of 2013, I asked community members for their reflections and  answers to this question:

“Based on your nonprofit marketing communications experiences in 2013, what is one thing you will STOP doing in 2014? Is there something you can stop doing in order to make room for more innovation, productivity or results next year?”

Here are eight things nonprofit communicators resolve to stop doing in 2014:


1. Multitasking

“After reading this post on the negative effect multi-tasking has on our brains, I have been trying to make a conscious effort to ‘single-task.’ For starters, ‘multi-tasking’ isn’t actually a thing. Our brains can only focus on one task at a time. So the 20+ tabs open in three different windows aren’t actually making me more efficient. I keep clicking over to Twitter and Facebook without realizing what I’m doing and I get that why-did-I-just-walk-into-this-room feeling. Then I click through the 20+ tabs again hoping for a clue, finally I finding one, only to do the process over an hour later. When I think of how much time I waste interrupting myself in the name of ‘efficiency’… So in 2014 I’ll be over here, doing one thing at a time.”

-Alexandra Axel
Media Director
The Caregiver Space



2. Taking “no” for an answer

“One thing I will stop doing in 2014: Stop taking versions of ‘No’ for an answer when it comes to improving marketing/communications. There are many ways our organizations/funders tell us no – no budget, not a priority, not relevant, no skills. In response, there can be equally as many ways to turn that ‘no’ around. Too often, we react to barriers instead of having that time to be innovative. While addressing challenges are good (and necessary), we also need to look for our strengths and external opportunities to identify value of marketing/communications and what it means to the organization.”

-Laarni Paras
Outreach and Community Education Coordinator
Springtide Resources



3. Publishing at current volumes

“We plan to publish fewer periodicals to allow more time to work on emergent projects. This plan will help us accommodate the needs of our development department.”

Jennifer Charney
Communications Manager
Save the Redwoods League



4. Getting mired in the details

“Such a great question, because in order to be interesting and helpful, you really need to ‘expose yourself.’ What did I do in 2013 that I won’t do in 2014 in order to be more productive, innovative and results-focused? Speaking from the perspective of a person with a new job in a new sector, I’d have to say, ‘Not get mired in the details, and stay big picture.’ Why? Because once you lose perspective, the walls of the box close in, and thinking outside the box becomes impossible. And as we all know, ‘Big Ideas’ happen outside the parameters of what’s been done, and thrive in the realm of what could be.”

-Lori Warren
Senior Marketing Communications Manager
KIPP Foundation



5. Saying “Let me know how I can help”

“In 2014, I will stop using the phrase ‘Let me know how I can help’ or ‘Let me know what I can do.’ Instead, I will be more direct, asking those in my organization ‘How can I help?’ or ‘What can I do?’ This creates engagement, opens the lines of communication, and gets everyone involved in the marketing process. That’s when the real progress, the real stories, and the ideas for great content come through.”

-Kelly Rembold
Marketing Specialist
Lark Enterprises, Inc.



 6. Postponing strategy planning time

“In 2014 I will stop letting my regularly planned, big picture strategy check-in/update/revision time be eaten up by other tasks. It happens so easily! Before I know it, I’ve completed dozens of time-sensitive requests yet let this commitment be postponed for another day. Dedicating this time ultimately makes everything I do better, and I’m focusing on keeping my schedule on track in the new year.”

-Angela de Burger
Manager, Communications 
YMCA Canada



7. Focusing on vanity metrics

“One thing I will stop doing in 2014 is focusing unnecessary attention on vanity metrics like the number of visitors to our website. Vanity metrics measure things that sound great and look good, but ultimately don’t actually contribute much to achieving your organizational objectives. I will spend more time focusing on metrics that measure more meaningful engagement such as newsletter signups, downloads, and donations.”

-Jason Shim
Digital Media Manager
Pathways to Education Canada



8. Trying to do everything

“The other day, I heard a colleague start her presentation with ‘You can’t do everything – and not everything is worth doing!’ Out came my pencil to write this down – yes, I found myself nodding in agreement. Too often in the past year have I found myself trying to add just another project, another event, another tweet – and then found myself lost in my to-do lists and project plans (well written and thought-out – but barely realistic). So, for the coming year, I will try to stop doing everything. Instead, I will try to be honest with my colleagues, clients and staff – and myself. That sometimes, something just isn’t worth doing – or will have to wait.”

-Markus Stadelmann-Elder
Director of Communications



What will you stop doing in 2014 in order to create space for more innovation, productivity or results? Please share in the comments.

Happy holidays to all and we’ll see you in 2014 – when you’ll be doing one less thing!

Marlene Oliveira

Marlene Oliveira

Communications advisor and copywriter at moflow
Marlene Oliveira is communications consultant and copywriter at moflow and founder of the Nonprofit MarCommunity blog. Having worked in the nonprofit sector since 1999, Marlene specializes in working with capacity building and grant-making organizations, advising on communications strategy, and writing stories and other content.
Marlene Oliveira
Marlene Oliveira