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interior-design-828545_640Setting rules around minute taking is one of those management issues that most organisations put off improving. After all, isn’t there more important work to be done than fine-tuning a process that doesn’t have earth-shattering results? There is a lot to be gained from streamlining how notes are taken at meetings. Even small, non-profit groups are advised to insist on a certain, consistent standard, for the good of the attendees, the minute taker, and the organisation as a whole. Let’s look at some of the steps NFPs can take towards making sure meeting minutes are up to standard.

Set a suitable agenda

To a certain extent, what goes on in a meeting can be predicted by how the meeting agenda is set. An agenda with a few broad, sweeping topics could lead to a meeting of brainstorming and tangental conversation. A more structured agenda, with a list of concise, finite topics, or firm decisions to be made can run at a different pace, and will produce a different looking set of minutes too. Meeting minute templates can be set out in advance of the meeting, reflecting the agenda, and making it easy for people in the meeting to fill in the details as the meeting unfolds.

The details deserve to be dealt with

As well as being consistent and thorough about taking down exactly who is in a meeting, and when it takes place, other details that will always be relevant include motions moved and passed, and what was said about each individual item on the agenda. Decisions about next steps to projects in full swing should be noted, including who is responsible for further follow ups.

Aim for Clarity and Thoroughness

When recorded properly, meeting minutes will fill in a reader about every important occurrence at any given meeting. Through the minutes, the reader should be able to catch up without being in attendance, as well as find out if topics were covered or missed, if decisions were made or put off, and who to ask for the latest details about meeting topics. They are helpful for communicating how the organisation is run, and how decisions are made, and can be drawn from to confirm understandings or solve discrepancies in knowledge.

For more details and advice about taking minutes for meetings, click on this link to order the Institute of Community Director’s “The Minutes Handbook: A Complete Guide For Not-For-Profit Boards”.

linkedin-911794_640Keeping a steady online presence is important for keeping your organisation in the front of supporters’ minds, and LinkedIn is one of the most useful social media sites to be a part of. It is not only a great way to keep donors up to date about what your organisation is up to, but also a efficient way to network with other organisations with similar causes. Look at the following tips to make sure you are using LinkedIn effectively.

Let Loose Your Brand

Set up a non-profit company page, and build it to contain all the relevant information people need to know about your organisation. Make sure it is easy to identify as the official representation of your group, by using official logos and letterheads. Add photos and vital details to demonstrate the dimensions of your organisation, and give viewers as full a picture as you can of your real-world operations.

Network with the Unknown

As well as adding groups and individuals you already liase with to your profile, seek out other organisations that share your mission, or who have shared clientele with you. LinkedIn is used the world over to make new connections or the advancement of many causes, so don’t be shy about sharing your message.

Be There Often

Keep to a regular schedule for updating so supporters always know what projects are underway or what fundraising activities are currently going on. Avoid inundating contacts with information, but do frequently remind them you are there. Depending on the size and scope of your organisation, consider updating once daily or weekly to get the balance right.

Let Your Message Shine

As well as a regular LinkedIn page, NFPs should also look into becoming involved in the Linkedin Answers community. This is a simple way to keep your finger on the pulse and in touch with what questions are arising in and about your industry. By asking and getting new information, knowledge bases of all parties can grow. Being the one to answer others queries can help develop a reputation for expertise.

Overall, LinkedIn is an affordable way to reach a lot of people, and generate valuable business contacts. It is effective when used well, and can drive traffic to your organisation’s main page and message. For further information straight from the source, have a look at LinkedIn’s special page just for not-for-profits. The training program provided is a true course to getting your feet wet.

promotional-products-694790_640Nearly everyone these days is pressed for time. We all have things that we need to get done each day in our personal and professional lives, but there simply aren’t enough hours in each day.

As new assignments, unfinished work and deadlines continue to pile up; stress continues to build and eventually takes its toll.

Thankfully there is a way to get more done each day, without losing your last bit of sanity!

Increase Your Productivity by Reducing Your Stress Levels

In the year 2001, the renowned productivity expert, David Allen first published his groundbreaking work, “Getting Things Done, The Art of Stress Free Productivity.” In his book, Allen explains that the key to increasing your productivity is to learn how to unwind and relax.

According to Allen, as you release things that cause stress and bring more order into your life, you can gain clarity and increase your productivity. To help readers to be able to relax by introducing order and organisation into their lives, Allen uses what he calls the GTR or, Get-Things-Done, approach.

What is GTD and How Can it Help You to Accomplish More?

GTD helps you to be able to lower your stress by helping you to organise, manage and keep up with all of those things that bring us stress: to-do lists, assignments, deadlines, schedules, and priorities. Rather than having to keep up with all of these different pieces of information by storing them in our active memory, GTD helps you to develop your own system for recording them and getting them off of your mind.

Since you don’t have all of this work constantly on your mind and looming over you, and interrupting your thoughts, you can relax. This allows you to focus on whatever task is at hand and most important to you at the moment, and enables you to actually able to complete tasks more quickly, and with greater creativity.

GTD Basics – Steps to Get More Organised Each Day

  1. Choose a recording method that’s easy for you to use. The first step in the GTD process is to decide how you are going to record all of your to-do-lists, deadlines, thoughts, assignments, projects, appointments and more. It should be a system that’s easy for you to use, regardless of where you happen to be. Some people find that it’s easiest to use “old school” methods such as pads of paper, physical journals or day calendars, sticky notes and whiteboards. Others take the tech route and use one of the incredible apps, such as Evernote, OneNote and more that are available to help you organise your life and keep up with everything that’s important to you. Regardless of how you decide to record everything that’s important, pick an option and stick with it.
  1. After you record your thought or assignment, break your thoughts out into steps to take and complete the action.
  1. Assign categories and priorities for each of your thoughts, and include due dates or projected times for completion into your record. This one simple step will help you to be able to organise your day and to help you keep up with all of your deadlines.
  1. Take the time to look over your list each day and throughout your day to decide which task or record you want to complete first. You will get more done through the day if you first choose those tasks that you can do quickly and that don’t require a lot of effort or energy. Move on to more detailed tasks through the day. Periodically review the progress that you are making with your lists. Over time you may find that you need to change the priority, or even completely change the steps necessary to complete certain tasks and achieve certain goals.
  1. Focus on the task at hand, and then move on to the next assignment. Since you’ve already broken up each task into the steps that it will take to complete it, and have assigned all of your tasks a priority and a due date, you no longer waste time wondering what item you should work on next. Removing this ambiguity and uncertainty will also help to reduce your stress levels so that you get more accomplished.

Your GTD System Should Evolve and Grow With You

Over time, you may find that your system of recording your lists isn’t working out for you. In fact, this is likely to happen if you allow your system to become too complicated and cumbersome to keep up with.

The best thing about the GTD system is that there aren’t any hard or fast rules, and it’s open to your interpretation. Personalising the system to use recording tools that are easy for you to use and keep up with, and keeping your system straightforward and easy to understand will increase your organisation as well as your productivity.

Periodically review your GTD system and continually look for ways to simplify your processes over time so that your system continues to evolve and grow with you, while reducing your stress.

startup-593327_640The Challenge

Volunteer Club Treasurers can have big shoes to fill. Their job is an important one, usually with the future of an entire operation resting on it being done properly. Some treasurers take over the job with no prior experience, and spend overwhelming weeks learning the ropes. If they are unlucky, they get little thanks, and often no time to get used to how things roll.

The Solution

If they are lucky, someone introduces them to Admin Bandit. Admin Bandit Volunteer Treasurer Software is precisely the sidekick a new treasurer needs, to make sure nothing important is overlooked, and all bases are covered. When it comes to offering a useful, accurate and complete financial record keeping system for community organisations, there is no one who knows the ins and outs like the Admin Bandit team.

Training and Online Help Included

One of the major draws for the Admin Bandit system is the accessible training and impeccable support available. Many users have given feedback that the learning of the software is easy, and success is facilitated by timely communication with staff.

Secure and Convenient

Another reassuring aspect of Admin Bandit is that all records are kept online. The privacy and security are second to none. Records cannot be tampered with by anyone other than administrators and, as they are stored in cyberspace, cannot be lost or destroyed.

Prepare Proper Documents

Admin Bandit offers a thorough way to prepare documents that other officers are going to need to see. There is no fear of being overly scrutinised or doubted with the records Admin Bandit enables. The system presents complete lists that treasures can tick off to make sure everything required is presented. Even new treasurers can feel confident they will produce a set of documents other board members can read, and will pass muster when tax auditors look them over. Legal responsibilities of the volunteer treasurer can weigh heavily on an inexperienced person’s mind, but with Admin Bandit all worries are vanquished.

Look No Further!

If you have been looking for a way to better record the expenses and income of your organisation, as well as a reliable, regular way to reconcile all accounts and make sure your papers are properly in order, there is no one who can help you more than Admin Bandit: Software for Volunteer Treasurers. There are several levels of licence available, and a 55 day trial for new users.

smartphone-569076_640In April, a telling report named “State of Volunteering In Australia” was launched at the National Volunteering Conference. Some of the key findings were ways in which to address perceived shortcomings of volunteer recruitment and placement, as well as how to improve volunteer participation and retention.

Challenge Finding Enough Help

Interesting areas in the report addressed what potentially deters volunteers from becoming involved in non-profit projects, even when the need for volunteers is clear and present. This is pertinent to many not-for-profits, as close to 90% report finding adequate volunteer help is an ongoing challenge for their organisations.

Catch 22 of Finding Volunteers

In a somewhat cyclical manner, it appears some organisations are not getting enough help because they lack the resources to recruit or engage volunteers. In this way, the groups remain small or understaffed, and important work is stalled. Various solutions are suggested for this scenario; mostly surrounding advocating for funding, and recognition of the fiscal contribution volunteer participation brings to operations. Getting a financial boost from outside can be the impetus needed to be able to reach out for more assistance.

Main Deterrents for the Volunteers

Volunteers, for their part, don’t always seem to mind incurring out of pocket expenses to be able to volunteer, with over 60% saying they did so, and just 18% claiming reimbursement. However, for others it can be a barrier, so it pays to be mindful of what may be the case for your organisation. Make sure to offer reimbursement at recruitment if it seems to be an issue. Other things that can be barriers to volunteers offering their time most commonly include work commitments, and ‘excessive’ paperwork, including background checks required in some sectors.

Making the Most of the Volunteers

Another shortcoming that is affecting volunteer retention is the possible lack in positively matching the skills and abilities of volunteers with work organisations. Organisations do well when they recognise and apply the best people to particular jobs, rather than leaving volunteers to do the job paid employees don’t want to do. When good matches happen, it is a win-win, with volunteers returning time and again to assist groups they know need them.

While it is not always easy finding the people you need when you need them, being aware of what stands in the way of long-term volunteer/organisation relationships is a vital step.

Dear DiaryJournalling has many benefits and serves many purposes for all types of people, but something many people never consider is keeping a professional journal. If you are someone who has always thought journals were strictly personal or hasn’t kept one since adolescence, read on to find out how journalling can be a significant activity in relation to work, volunteer or otherwise, as well. Such a sensitive document as a journal will take very different forms depending on who is writing it, but some of the stand-out functions we will look at here are journalling to reflect, process and develop ideas, and plan.

Reflect

Largely self-explanatory, using a journal to reflect involves making the time to document what did and did not work about a particular project, and whether or not objectives were met or left unsatisfied. This is an important launching point towards acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses given most energy in a workplace setting, and can be very useful for discovering how to make the most of similar situations in the future.

Process and develop ideas

This is the part of journalling where there is probably the most individual variation. Some people will want to include articles from publications that speak to them; others will include inspirational quotes. Mind maps are another useful tool worth practising to get ideas bubbling.  Keeping a record of feedback, both positive and negative, you have received, can also help you develop professionally.

Plan

Good ideas often happen outside of work time. When that happens, you will need a place to write them down, before they disappear forever. The same sometimes goes for career aspirations. Sometimes, when we feel positive and bold, we are aware of our full potential, and make decisions we later talk ourselves out of. If these grand plans for our short or long-term future are written down, however, we might think twice about letting go of them. Occasionally, having something written down makes it seem one step closer already.

A professional journal is a private space where, over time, we can track our own accomplishments and see the progress we have made towards goals large and small. Make sure you are making the most of this easy professional development tool. For more ideas about how to make it work for you, as well as further links to useful articles, have a look here.

stapler-1016310_640There is a lot to be said for documents that can be accessed by many people in an organisation, that hold a lot of accurate information, and contain data in a way that can be understood easily. There are a growing number of people who will tell you that a spreadsheet is not such a document. In fact, many management professionals have stopped dealing in spreadsheets altogether, as they are often either confusing, inaccurate or too rapidly outdated to be of much use.

The humble spreadsheet is such a staple of many offices, however, that we appreciate you may need some convincing to let yours go. Let’s look at the most compelling reasons to do so, and after considering the matter objectively, we think it is likely you will not hesitate to implement something better.

Easy to imitate – impossible to duplicate

Almost without exception, a master spreadsheet will be copied and sent to workers in different sectors, who will then input their own data in the hope of collating something more thorough. What happens, though, is that these extended spreadsheets are rarely collaborated and sent out again so everyone gets a full picture, or if they are, it is easy to become confused with which version of a constantly evolving document is the most recent.

Easy Come, Easy Go

One attractive feature of a spreadsheet layout is that it is easy to input data. Unfortunately, when these documents are shared among a group who all need to access them, there are no limits on who can alter them, meaning they can change without warning or explanation. Additionally, there is always the possibility, and often the reality, that critical data can be mistakenly deleted, rendering the spreadsheet invalid for use.

Easy does it!

In theory, a spreadsheet can be clear, organised, and clutter-free. But most of us have encountered a colleague so enamoured with the complexities of Excel, that their spreadsheets evolve to resemble a document we might find on the International Space Station. Unless there are rigid guidelines in place, a spreadsheet can get complicated very quickly, increasing misinterpretations and errors.

At Admin Bandit, we specialise in supplying and supporting a group of truly useful tools that are set up for accuracy and efficiency. With our system, your data is secured in one location online, so when multiple officers do need to see a document, they will be viewing the same one every time, and changes can only be made by authorised persons. Unlike the spreadsheet, with the many different ways they can go wrong, our system is straightforward and easy to get right.

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