4 Routines to STOP in 2021

Mike Schmidt, CFRE, Cramer & Associates, Executive V.P. & Partner


We’re already well into 2021, and you’ve probably started to implement your strategic goals for the next few months. But how do you stay the course, avoid roadblocks, and keep up the motivation?

Our Cramer Team suggests challenging the status quo and dropping some of those every day, sometimes harmful, routines to allow space for clarity and the ability to push forward.

Once you do, be prepared to experience courageous optimism, magnified collaboration and catch a glimpse into a transformational future. Share these tips; your nonprofit team will want in on the secret, too.

1. STOP waiting for the “next thing”

We hear a lot of nonprofits stalling new ideas until “after the election,” “after the holidays,” “after a vaccine,” or “when the new administration starts.” It’s a never-ending cycle, so, it’s critical to forge your own path that’s flexible and has a clear end goal.

Last year, everyone’s plans were put on hold, but as we learned, our communities’ needs didn’t stop, and things had to keep moving. Our missions are too critical to wait on things we can’t control. We must be the committed drivers even when it is easier to wait.

2. STOP projecting stress on others

We have a number of nonprofit leaders share their concerns about the economy or how donors will be reacting to this coming year. Many of these same leaders are basing this on a very limited view of what’s happening in the bigger picture.

Yes, it’s easy to find examples of downsizing or layoffs, but equally easy to see where hiring and growth are occurring. Don’t confuse an evolving economy with a downturn. React to all the signs and not just the negatives.

3. STOP saying YES to everything

I got into the world of nonprofits because it’s incredibly inspiring and fulfilling. Every day, I hear stories from our partners who are making the world better through their work on a specific program or funding an initiative that transforms lives in our community. It fires me up and makes me want to jump in next to them and get busy.

I’ve learned to get involved where I have the bandwidth and recognize when I need to celebrate others and share their story with friends. Make sure if you’re agreeing to take something on, you have the time to truly commit. If you aren’t sure, save that space for someone who can.

4. STOP playing it safe

Remember how frightening last spring was when we were forced to completely change how we did everything – from conducting meetings to wiping down our groceries? We jumped way out of our comfort zone, and in many cases, the innovations and changes were very much for the better.

We learned to make personal connections on Zoom, how to have virtual board meetings and how our missions can be fulfilled more efficiently. The year 2020 threw everything at us, and we came out better. As 2021 has already started presenting its own set of challenges, we can rightfully say, bring it on!

What other routines are to stopping this year to make you and your team successful?


Cramer & Associates is a nationally recognized philanthropic consulting firm that has been serving nonprofit organizations, corporations and foundations since 1987. Our full-service firm offers clients a wide range of services, including feasibility studies, campaigns, strategic planning, board training, development audits, events, executive searches and much more. The Cramer Team identifies organizations’ strengths and opportunities and develops campaigns that succeed, empowering organizations to impact their communities.

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