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A New Year Challenge: Create an Organization-Wide Calendar

The start of the New Year is always filled with potential. We suddenly have a fresh slate and can start “life” off right – whether that is related to personal goals, family life, fitness levels, or work.

Just as we personally challenge ourselves to do better, let’s challenge ourselves as nonprofit professionals to perform as effectively as possible in 2014. One way to do this is to get more organized.

Now, obviously, there are many ways to get organized. Just one look at Pinterest and you can find myriad helpful hints that it can amaze you…or even overwhelm you. But instead of implementing specific techniques to help organize just one process or another task, how can you help your nonprofit organize as a whole? One idea is to help your nonprofit perform better by creating an organization-wide calendar. While it takes a little time and energy, the results make the effort worthwhile.

Over the past few weeks, I have been working to create an organization-wide calendar here at GuideStar. This is a 2014 calendar which contains the important dates for my organization. The calendar is done in Excel, and the main worksheet includes important dates such as planning periods, board meeting dates, audit scheduling, and performance review periods. Secondary worksheets include department-specific dates, such as our budgeting schedule for the Finance team and development schedule for our Products team.


Organization Calendar Screen shot of GuideStar's first-ever organization-wide calendar


Calendar headings
Calendar headings

What are the benefits of creating an organization-wide calendar?

1) Creates a rhythm / cadence

Our organization functions on a quarterly basis. A calendar helps define which weeks in the quarter are devoted to which processes – such as planning, reporting, and preparing for the board meeting.

2) Increases transparency and inter-office productivity

More transparency within an organization is a key factor in increasing external transparency. Staff members can use the calendar to understand what is going on in other departments.

3) Reduces redundancy in meetings

As I created this calendar, I started to spot areas of redundancy. I was able to make suggestions to cut back on extraneous meetings. For example, our organization is considering combining a monthly finance and management meeting to more effectively use leadership’s time.

4) Clarifies processes

Sometimes, we have processes in place “because the last guy did it.” When I asked across departments for various meeting schedules, managers spent some time considering why their meetings are taking place. This helped streamline an understanding of why different meetings were taking place, and perhaps changes can be made in the future.

Over the next few weeks, I challenge you to look at how your nonprofit is organized. Do you find yourself in three fifteen-minute meetings every day? Are you unsure what is going on across departments? Maybe it’s time for you to create an organization-wide calendar for your nonprofit.

How are you planning to be more effective in 2014? What techniques are you hoping to use this year to organize your nonprofit? Please let me know in the comments below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Anisha Singh Anisha Singh is a business analyst at GuideStar. She splits her time between the Strategy Team, Finance Team, and Office of the President/CEO. Anisha is a graduate from Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in International Studies and Economics. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, finding the best restaurants in DC, and annoying her brother with her philanthropy chatter. You can reach Anisha at

Topics: Nonprofit Leadership and Practice