Thanksgiving is my favorite U.S. holiday, and I don’t really like turkey. And, if I’m going to be honest, I really don’t like the history of the holiday. Despite all of this, I still love Thanksgiving, for two big reasons: first, it is a holiday that is solely focused on appreciating what you have. Second, Thanksgiving gives us a good reason to bring together the people that we love and appreciate. Since I love hosting meals, it’s an absolute no brainer that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
This year, our family of four celebrated Thanksgiving with my husband’s parents, his youngest brother and his spouse, and family friends for a grand total of 12 people seated around our table. I have a pretty standard menu, but if I didn’t take the time to plan and prep, the actual day could be a real…$h!t show. I have the recipes digitized, a spreadsheet of all the ingredients needed and when to purchase them, and a detailed timeline on when to do each task. The planning allows me to enjoy my loved ones and to fully appreciate all that I have.
Planning Guarantees a Stress-Free Holiday
Stop. Think. Plan.
Whenever I take the time to stop, think, and plan, I find that I’m more efficient and able to do more. Plus, I’m able to better handle the unexpected (the little hiccups that are a normal part of life). This isn’t unique to me – most people perform better when they’re proactive rather than reactive. Sadly, way too many people are going through life just reacting to one thing and the next. I especially see this in the not-for-profit world. Because of this, many not-for-profits are failing to Get It Together (#NFPgit).
Create a Habit of Planning
Many NFP leaders and staff are so hyper-focused on fulfilling their mission that they neglect to make time to plan. Ideally, NFPs should be planning with an eighteen-month time-frame, and be meeting twice a year to review and revise their plans based on data, staffing, and trends. If the habit of planning is created and nurtured, think of how much more of an impact could be made.
Case Study: #GivingTuesday
For instance, in 2012 #GivingTuesday was launched, and now seven years later, organizations across the United States use it as a platform to solicit donations. Many of these organizations don’t take the time to plan a well-thought-out #GivingTuesday strategy. They are blasting social media and their email lists with messaging about “a day of gratitude, four days of shopping deals, and now we have a day dedicated to giving back…Giving Tuesday.” Since there is an abundance of NFPs using this messaging, organizations need to stand out from the noise and truly make the case on why philanthropically investing in their organization is worthwhile and necessary.
If organizations created a strategy to start to set the stage in autumn, and then make the ask during #GivingTuesday, they most likely would be more successful. Why? Because they took time to think about who they are trying to inspire to give. Plus, most people aren’t impulsive in giving, so taking time to create a strategy will better position organizations for #GivingTuesday. Taking even a day to plan will make the implementation process easier to execute.
Planning Is NOT a Time-Suck!
I know that stopping to plan might seem like a time-suck, but if I didn’t take the time to plan out my Thanksgiving meal, I would have had a disaster of a holiday. The same is true in the NFP world. Taking the time to stop, think, and plan will propel any organization towards getting it together.