New Year’s Resolutions for River Groups

For this month’s FAQ, the Georgia River Network staff is answering a question we get asked a lot from river group boards and staff:

What’s the one thing our organization could do this year to make us even more successful next year?

It’s a great question—every organization should have a New Year’s resolution!  But the answer depends a lot on who you ask.  This month the staff of Georgia River Network shares what each thinks is an important resolution an organization could make in 2014.

April Ingle, Executive Director: Hold a weekly staff meeting. Set aside 30 minutes each week for everyone on your staff to sit down together to update each other on the projects they are working on and get feedback or input on topics of interest to your entire team. No need to make it complicated, schedule 30 minutes on the calendar when most/all of the staff will be in the office. When the meeting starts ask everyone for agenda items they want to discuss. If you work remotely, schedule a check-in call instead. Weekly staff meetings are a great way for everyone to be connected to the work of the entire organization, to generate great ideas, and troubleshoot issues.

Gwyneth Moody, Community Programs Coordinator: Don’t reinvent the wheel! Reach out to the community and other organizations for resources before spending time, money, and energy on a project/program.  Many times key components  of your proposed project/ program have been researched and carried out  before and since we all have the same fundamental  water protection objectives, most watershed groups are happy to share.  This is also a great way to build relationships.  When another group is in need- the sharing of resources and knowledge can be reciprocated.  

Dana Skelton, Director of Administration and Outreach: Get out your strategic plan. Get ready for the year by checking in on your strategic plan and annual work plan.  Inventory your office equipment and merchandise.  Update and change your list of online passwords.  Write down any new processes you used for bookkeeping or office tasks so you or anyone after you can easily figure out how to do it next time. Go back and analyze your direct mail and online fundraising asks to see what was successful or what you might do differently in the coming year.

Debra Tate, Adminstrative Assistant: Organize your work space. Everyone knows it’s just more pleasant to work at the office when you feel organized and there isn’t a lot of clutter all around. You work more efficiently, too! So, here are a few simple tips to help you get more done with less stress in 2014.

De-clutter: Stay on top of reading emails. Delete or file emails immediately upon reading them. File physical documents weekly, at least. Do an office purge at least every 6 months.

Go digital: The more you can do and store digitally, the better. It’s more efficient and creates less clutter.

Get organized: Develop a good filing system that works well for you. This goes for both physical and digital folders. Always have a “pending” folder. Color coded and neatly labeled folders are great, too.

Clean up: Straighten your work space before leaving the office so you have a clean start the next day.

Stay on task: Keep a running to-do list that is broken down by priorities and time sensitivities.

Make a home for things: Have a place for everything so you always know where to find it.

Chris Manganiello, Policy Director: Keep track of what’s going on in your watershed.!  Check-in on Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) and the Corps of Engineers every month.!  Reviewing these websites at least once a month will help you stay on top of announcements, permit activity (water withdrawals, landfills, LAS, NPDES, etc.) and enforcement actions that affect Georgia’s clean water.  

Search for Events, Notices and Announcements
Monitor EPD’s Proposed Rule Changes
Browse EPD “Enforcement Orders”
Cruise EPD News Releases
Check Army Corps of Engineers Joint Public Notices

Davin Welter, Development Director: Do an End-of-the-Year Appeal. I know it seems eons away, but make resolve to schedule an end-of-the-year appeal in 2014! About 30 percent of online giving happens at the end of the calendar year. If you are not asking in December you may be missing out! Here are several tips to remember when asking for those end-of-year gifts:

Cover all the bases: Send a direct mail piece, use social media (like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube), and send a healthy amount of email. Coordinate these different communication vehicles with messages that share a theme or reference.

Repeat the link: In your emails provide multiple links to your donation page. Hyperlink a phrase in each paragraph (beginning, middle, end) and put a donate button in the email. One fundraising professional has said that you should give folks seven opportunities to click to donate.

Create urgency: Set a deadline to give which can be as simple as: “It’s the end of the year, make a gift by December 31” or “this is your last chance to get a 2014 tax deduction.”

Express appreciation: Show that you are grateful for their giving in your communication and ALWAYS follow up with a thank you note.

Hit it hard the last three days of the year: If you are only going to send three emails, send them on December 29, 30, and 31. These are the most active days for year-end giving.

Name and contact info: Always have someone from your organization (Executive Director, Board Chair, etc) sign the appeal which makes it personal. Provide as many ways to donate as possible. Don’t make a donor have to search for your info.

Jesslyn Shields, Watershed Support Coordinator: Interact with your community! Sure—we love rivers, which is why we do what we do. But we can’t do this work without other people joining with us.  I’ve noticed the most successful river protection happens when groups spend time figuring out what resonates with their community.  In some parts of our great state, a fishing tournament would go over really well as a fundraiser, and in some others - a paddling event, and in others - a fancy soiree.  Spend some time this year asking around about what interests people in order to plant the seeds for your next event or program!