3 min Read
December 13, 2023

Five tips for a smooth project

When you are refreshing your organization’s look and feel or creating a fundraising campaign, you may be focused on the finished product and all the great things you will do with it. Before you make the big announcement to your team, take a moment to consider your project management approach for each phase. Having a solid plan that creates buy-in, makes room for folks to engage, and works with your internal culture will make sure your project is successful and widely adopted. 

Here are five tips about how you can execute a smooth and successful project.


  • Map out your internal decision-making process. Does your organizational culture encourage independent decision-making, or do you decide by consensus? Either are great models to use but understanding how your organization will determine major decisions is important. Be honest in your assessment on how your organization makes decisions and plan accordingly. MOCHA and DARCI are great templates to start and make your own. Consider each decision point independently and identify what roles people will play. Setting milestones ahead of time will ensure your project moves at the right pace.
  • Plan for updates to share your process.  If you are going to announce a major change like a new name or updating a beloved logo, you do not want to catch your most devoted constituents off guard. Make a list of who will need updates and who must be engaged for your project to succeed. How will the full staff be kept up to date? What about board members, volunteers, clients, or long-term partners, or donors? Every organization operates differently; take a moment to assess your internal culture to create a plan for updates.
  • Assign a project manager and communicate with your team! You may have been ready to do a brand refresh for several years, and it’s finally happening! Whether you are doing the work in-house or hiring an outside agency: Stay in contact with your project team. If you are doing this in-house, identify someone in your working group to serve as a project manager. If you are working with an agency, ask about their approach to project management and how it is staffed. Your project manager, or in our case, your account manager, is an extension of your team. Our role is to have your project be as successful as possible, and flow on time and on budget. Your project manager can help you brainstorm through concerns and plan out possibilities. Set a rhythm with your project manager to check in, review the project timeline, and discuss tasks and goals to make sure you take advantage of all opportunities.
  • Compare your organizational calendar and project timeline. There might be events planned in your calendar that can be used to support your project development. Is there an all-staff meeting or a board meeting coming up? That might be a great place to share an update on the progress of your project. Is your remote team coming in for the annual retreat? Perhaps you can use that moment for some group exercises or feedback. Is there a big conference that your team needs weeks to focus on? Block out those dates in advance. Make a plan for how your internal events can connect to and further your project’s progress–and consider dates you may need to avoid or incorporate into feedback cycles.  Fundraising galas, staff retreats, office closures, and major events should all be taken into account when developing your project timeline.
  • Build flexibility into your plan.  As a nonprofit, you are constantly adapting to changing circumstances. Perhaps a new funder wants to invest in growing your organization, a major development occurs that disrupts your field, a crisis erupts, or there is a new opportunity for collaboration. Although you can’t plan for all of these scenarios, you want to build flexibility into your plan so you can adapt to the moment. Make space for when new opportunities arise or for when you need to pivot. Building flexibility will allow your project to succeed through all circumstances.

Embarking on a major project can seem overwhelming but remember to take stock of your internal culture, your project management approach, and how your project will evolve from start to finish. By implementing some or all of these tips, you will make the best use of your organization’s resources.