Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Nonprofit Priority Matrix Focuses Limited Time

Nonprofit organizations usually struggle with two limited resources – money and time. One Street’s Priority Matrix is designed to help nonprofits achieve the most from the finite time their team has to offer. Before using the Priority Matrix, the first step is to ensure that everyone is serving in the best role for their character and skills; both staff and volunteers.

In Cures for Ailing Organizations, I emphasize finding proper roles for everyone in an organization. Those who are experts and specialists should not be expected to serve in leadership roles that require broad, long-term vision. On the other hand, visionaries with leadership skills should know that their role as leader is plenty and should not be expected to accomplish complex tasks. Some individuals will want to hold multiple roles. Just make sure these roles are distinct. By finding proper roles for everyone who wants to help your organization, you will ensure that their time achieves meaningful success. And people who see their efforts causing positive change will stay around for more.

Once everyone on your team is happy and effective in their roles, the Priority Matrix will become a useful tool toward greater efficiency. With it, you can distinguishing between critical work that the organization relies on and urgent tasks that require immediate attention. Critical work is always best done well before it becomes urgent. And urgent work that is critical must be kept to a minimum to keep stress levels low and prevent programs from being compromised.

The matrix highlights ways to avoid the critical/urgent mode by keeping your team working steadily on current tasks so they are never surprised by a deadline. Note that 100% of volunteer time is shown in the not-critical category. This is because non-leader volunteers should never be placed in a position where the organization’s success depends on them. They are still placed in the urgent section because the role of volunteers is to make current projects even better.

Post this matrix where members of your team can check it to make sure they are working effectively. Use it during planning meetings when inefficient ideas are offered such as asking staff to spend time on tasks that are not critical when volunteers are available to do that work.

This Priority Matrix is one of my favorite tools for ensuring effective use of time in nonprofits. Do you have another favorite you’d like to share? If so, please include it in the comments sections.