5 ways nonprofit consultant prep for a stress-free vacation
Summer! Vacation time, right? It’s time to get away and check out and leave your stress behind, or is it?
Summer can be an especially stressful time for nonprofit consultants. Yes, it’s a time to get away, but do you have the funds? One of the hardest financial tasks is to take money out of your profit from each job and set it aside for something like a nice vacation. But even if you have the money, you have the time? You might think that for nonprofits when activity might be slow, you can take a break to. For so many of us, that’s just wrong. While nonprofits may not be outwardly active, they’re preparing for some of their most active times, especially if you’re consulting for fundraising. Those fall letters don’t get done in the fall. They get done in the summer, getting ready for the fall. Oh, and how about your client’s vacation time? While you are trying to get work done for them, your contact throws in two or three weeks away for herself! Besides the jealousy factor, it really throws a wrench to your plans because you need her to move forward on the projects she assigned you. Ironic, isn’t it, that about a week after your contact gets back, you need a vacation to recover from her vacation!
How do you make some are less stressful? Here are some tips:
- Systematize your savings. I know this is really hard to do, but if you take a vacation, you have to save for it. I don’t know when the last time I saw a bank “vacation club,” but the ideas still really good. Open a separate bank account and every time you get a check from a client, put aside a little bit into this “vacation club” account. When you’re ready to go, draw the money and enjoy yourself knowing that you’re not taking away from your household expenses just to get away for a really, really well-deserved vacation.
- Focus on your client’s life-cycle. We all know that in nonprofits, there is the yearly public cycle, and the yearly behind-the-scenes cycle. For example, annual fund mailings are best dropped at specific times of the year. Your work on that project might be done weeks ahead of that drop date. Try to plot out your most significant clients behind the scenes work cycles so you have an idea of when you can schedule your time away so that it impacts them least and frees up your mind the most.
- Declare vacation time well in advance. Let your current clients know and make it a discussion point with new clients. You might even consider putting it in your contract that you will be away on the specific dates you select. That way, there no surprises, and you might find better cooperation from your clients who might be able to work around your schedule, as you complete projects for them.
- Take vacations off schedule. This may or may not be possible, depending on the rest of your family, and their schedules, like school and other activities. But if you can, your counter scheduling vacations when most people are not away can really help you financially and mentally. A lot of popular vacation destinations are happy to have anybody show up when it’s not high season. To express that happiness, they will give you discounts on top prices. In addition, travel prices tend to be less when there’s lesser demand, from gasoline to airfares. Besides, you’ll feel better about spending less and enjoy a great place to go with substantially fewer people to share it with.
- Schedule a series of mini-vacations through the year. While there’s nothing like checking out for an extended period of time just to get your head together, there’s a lot to be said for a schedule of ongoing mini vacations to places that you might not want to spend a lot of time at but would make good two or three-day visits. Like visiting antique shops? Schedule two days at a hotel about four hours away and just go shop to shop to shop. How about camping? Nice hike in the greenery can do anybody good, and if you pick the right place, two or three days make a significant difference in your attitude when you get back.
Vacation is too important to miss. When you’re a consultant to nonprofits, you face a lot of stress not just in what you do for clients, but even just finding clients. So, make sure that you get away sometime this summer even if it’s just a few days at a place that may not be all you want, but is enough to say “hey, I went away I had a good time.”
Enjoy your summer.
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Have a great consulting day!
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