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New Year, New Tools: Increasing Usage of Your Organization-Wide Calendar

With the second month of the new year already upon us, it’s time to go back and reflect on those New Year’s resolutions we seemingly just made. Some resolutions are already long gone; while others remain, if only as unfulfilled reminders by the nagging voice in the back of our head. Although many of my personal resolutions haven’t been fulfilled, I am keeping on track with my GuideStar resolution: to create and use an organization-wide calendar.

In January, I wrote about creating an organization-wide calendar, and challenged other nonprofits to do the same. This calendar can increase transparency, reduce redundancy, and create a cadence across our organization. While I’m happy to report that I’ve completed the basic set-up of the calendar, now I am faced with the next challenge: helping everyone learn how to use it.

Like most nonprofits, here at GuideStar the employees are incredibly busy. Although we all wear multiple hats, it is easy to become too absorbed in our own work. Therefore, while much of the staff recognizes the importance of an organization-wide calendar, they’re not yet in the habit to automatically check and use it. Since it’s my job to make sure the calendar is being used efficiently here are a few ways I’ve engaged with the staff to help increase calendar usage:

1. Print Copies – Every staff member at GuideStar will receive an 11 X 17 print copy of the calendar at our All-Staff meeting. Adding laminate/sheet protector also allows the staff to use them as desk mats.

An organization-wide calendar sits on the desk of at least one GuideStar employee-- me! An organization-wide calendar sits on the desk of at least one GuideStar employee--me!

2. GuideStar’s Collaboration Space – I keep a copy of the calendar on our organization’s online collaboration space. This way, I can update it regularly and everyone has immediate access to the changes. Our staff is spread out across the country, so having a shared digital copy makes it easier for everyone to stay on the same page.

3. Integrated with Outlook – Since GuideStar employees rely heavily on their Microsoft Outlook calendar for updates, I’ve worked with our IS team to integrate this calendar into Outlook as well. This is a shared calendar that everyone can view, but only I can edit.

As you may have noticed, I believe that visual repetition and widespread availability are key to ensuring successful calendar management. At the end of the day, you can’t force anyone to immediately adopt a new tool. However, my goal is to make this calendar so easily accessible that those who want to use it can do so quickly and easily. Hopefully, these tips will encourage an organization-wide embrace to our new calendar system!

How does your organization increase usage of a new tool? Any take-away advice about what does and doesn’t work? I’d love to learn more from you and increase collaboration across the sector.

Anisha Singh 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 anisha.singh@guidestar.org.

Topics: Nonprofit Leadership and Practice