BDI Senior Director of Project Management, Carol Li

QUICK SHOT: 5 Tips for Effective Nonprofit Project Management

Hacks for staying organized and on time

By Carol Li, BDI Senior Director of Project Management

If your nonprofit is like most, chances are any project management-type work at your organization falls on the shoulders of an already busy team member. It can be challenging to keep key projects moving… to thank donors in a timely manner… or process your data on time. 

What does an effective nonprofit project manager do, and what are some hacks for staying organized and on time with your assignments? Read on for some helpful principles that guide BDI’s project management team… and that can help an overly busy nonprofit leader like you!

Why nonprofits need project managers

People may think project managers only look at schedules and dates. But PMs do so much more! While scheduling does take up some of our time, our main responsibility is to understand how all moving parts contribute to the greater whole – and successful completion – of a project. 

These insights empower teams to prepare for and overcome any workflow challenges that may arise, which is why your nonprofit org will greatly benefit by identifying someone to fill a project management role. Here are 5 tips for introducing effective project management at your nonprofit: 

  1. Get to know folks from other departments who work closely with you. They are your internal clients! This includes learning the most effective way to communicate with them, building trust and more importantly, having empathy when projects run behind and grace when schedules don’t go as planned.
  2. Review processes periodically and make improvements when necessary. Considering how fast the nonprofit industry evolves, processes should be assessed on an annual basis. A process that worked five years ago might be outdated now due to changes in staffing, clients or industry. Be proactive and don’t hesitate to collaborate with other departments to find the best process.
  3. Be an active participant at meetings. Listen! Understanding the scope of work and asking questions help create better schedules, and will also give you a better understanding of how your team works.
  4. Use your eTools! Whatever PM tool you have (Adobe Workfront, etc.) make full use of its capabilities. Reports, dashboards… are all useful tools to help improve efficiency. In addition, it can help to train other staff members on these tools to provide ongoing support.  
  5. For everyone who works with the project management team/de facto project manager, help us help you! Engage us, keep us in the loop and let us help you troubleshoot.

I get it. Your schedule is packed and you’re wearing multiple hats. Even if your official job title isn’t “Project Manager,” I hope these tips can help any leader who manages projects moving through their organization. 

By adopting these effective project management practices, you’re not just streamlining tasks – you’re supercharging your nonprofit’s mission and helping even more people in your community!

  • Carol Li, Director of Project Management

    Carol Li, Senior Director of Project Management

    Carol brings 20 years of experience in the field of project management. She started her career in cable advertising and her organizational talents soon led her to the traffic department… where everything clicked into place. Her first agency job was as a project manager for the United Mileage Plus account. She’s also worked on nonprofit accounts including Salvation Army, Red Cross, Habitat and Lutheran Ministries.

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