Virtual Assistants: Nonprofit Executives’ Secret Weapon

Updated: 16 Sep, 2021 | Bill Peatman

Nonprofit boards and executive directors are finding a secret weapon in the form of virtual assistants. Most executive directors of mid-sized nonprofits are not administrators. They are program focused, and critical admin tasks often fall by the wayside:

  • Scheduling meetings
  • Managing email
  • Donor communications
  • Grant research
  • Board communications
  • Data entry
  • CRM management
  • Email marketing
  • Event coordination
  • Website updates
  • Office management

Nonprofits are typically cash strapped, and, like most organizations, staff salaries are the most significant expense. Hiring a virtual assistant as a fractional employee can be a cost-effective way to handle admin tasks that, while important, are not core to an executive director's role. Let's look at each nonprofit admin task a virtual assistant can take off an ED's plate.

Scheduling Meetings

It takes 20-25 minutes to schedule a meeting. Finding the time slot that works for everyone is a headache. Give a virtual assistant access to your calendar, they can:

  • Schedule meetings
  • Send confirmations to prevent no-shows
  • Reserve rooms or restaurants
  • Remind you of upcoming meetings

Manage Email

If your inbox is overflowing with messages, you're not alone. Most executives spend three hours a day managing email. A virtual assistant canc put a big dent in that time by:

  • Deleting spam
  • Alerting you to priority messages
  • Forwarding requests that can be delegated
  • Organizing messages in folders

Donor Communications

Your existing donors are your biggest fans. They are also the easiest to overlook. Consistent donor communication is the secret to predictable income. Regular meetings with your most prominent donors, phone calls, letters, and emails communications are important but time-consuming. Here's how a virtual assistant can help with donor communications:

  • Input donations as they arrive
  • Send immediate thank-you letters and emails
  • Schedule regular meetings with top donors
  • Schedule periodic emails to all donors

Grant Research

Grant applications require a lot of data. Compiling data for grants can be burdensome. A virtual assistant can help you gather internal and external data for grant applications, including:

  • Community needs statistics
  • Program participation rates
  • Program completion rates
  • Program delivery costs

Board Communications

Board meetings tend to sneak up on board members and executive directors alike. Comping a board package with the previous meeting's minutes, consent agenda, committee reports, program updates, and financial reports is another time-consuming administrative task that a virtual assistant can perform. A virtual assistant can also:

  • Schedule board meetings
  • Confirm board members' attendance
  • Assemble and distribute meeting materials
  • Arranging any board travel and accommodations

Data Entry

There are several data entry tasks a virtual assistant can do for nonprofits, depending on the nature of the organization and its mission. Data entry tasks include:

  • Client intake forms
  • Donor contact information
  • Volunteer contact information
  • Program calendars
  • Program attendance
  • Income and expenses

CRM Management

Nonprofits typically use a customer relationship management (CRM) program to track the activities and contact information of donors, clients, and volunteers. As with for-profit organizations, consistent data information and management is critical to the effective use of CRM. A virtual assistant can help by:

  • Entering new contact data
  • Updating incomplete contact information
  • Updating contact activities
  • Running reports for board meetings and grants

Email Marketing

Email outreach for nonprofits can include newsletters, seasonal fundraising campaigns, event promotion, and program outreach. A virtual assistant may not be able to write your emails, but they can do most of the campaign execution tasks, including:

  • Pulling lists from your CRM
  • Formatting emails in your email marketing platform
  • Formatting and sending newsletters
  • Sending emails
  • Following up on responses

Event Logistics

Fundraising events are notorious for sucking up a nonprofit staff's time. Even if you have a development director, the logistics of fundraising events are daunting. A virtual assistant can take much of this off your staff's plate, performing any tasks that you do off-site, such as:

  • Researching and reserving venues
  • Sending invitations
  • Entering registrations
  • Ordering catering and decorations
  • Soliciting auction donations
  • Recruiting sponsors
  • Entering donations
  • Sending thank-you notes

Website Updates

Websites fall out of date quickly, especially calendars of events. Nonprofits don't always have a person dedicated to website updates. Virtual assistants can do a lot of backend work to keep your website current. They can:

  • Post blogs and newsletters
  • Update events and program calendars
  • Check to make sure donation links are working
  • Add photos from recent meetings and events
  • Update statistics about program impacts
  • Update staff profiles

Office Management

Virtual assistants can't sit in your reception area, but there are many office management tasks they can do from outside the office.

  • Ordering office supplies
  • Paying bills
  • Running payroll
  • Scheduling maintenance and cleaning services
  • Bookkeeping data entry

Most nonprofit executives are pulled in twenty directions and struggle to focus on the core work of moving the organization forward. Budgets are tight, and resources are spread thin. Virtual assistants enable nonprofit executives to cost-effectively offload routine, day-to-day administrative tasks to someone who can do them more efficiently.

To learn more about how to work with a virtual assistant, check out this guide.

Discover how a virtual assistant can boost your productivity,

About the Author: Bill is Prialto's senior content marketing manager and writes about the future of work and how businesses can be more productive and successful. His work has appeared in the World Economic Forum Agenda blog and CIO magazine.

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