Doing More With Less

By this point in February, you’re sick of hearing what a tough year 2020 was.  Guess what, Cupcake, by every measure it appears that 2021 will be just as tough. Your cupboard may be a little bare, and your patience may be wearing a little thin, but you’re still going to be asked to get results in what is going to be another lean year, resources wise.

How will you do it?

Here are four free strategies that can help you stretch dollars and win as a leader for your organization as the pandemic and its economic impact continue to challenge non-profits and community supported radio stations.

  • Dive deep into the data.  Go beyond your regular reports and comb your donor and constituent data for new clues about what might advance your mission.  Ask different questions, look at your audience and supporters from new angles. Find ways to use the information you already have about who loves you, who likes to hear from you and who gives to you. It costs nothing, and with hardly any events on your calendar due to COVID-19, you’ve got the time to finally curl up with a cup of coffee and a few spreadsheets.
  • Make this the year of listening. Asking questions and probing for answers is still free, especially when you do it through phone calls, emails, safe in-person visits and Zoom meetings.  Start with your team.  Book more one-on-ones, ask lots of open-ended questions. Find out what makes them tick, what they care about, and what ideas they have to make your organization great in 2021.  PAR Executive Vice President Brian Sanders’ book, Leadership Endurance, spells out the strategy of offering “amnesty” to your team members.  They can’t get fired for anything they say in the meeting with you.  Hold similar listening sessions with supporters and fans.  Really try to hear them and not offer pat answers to common complaints.
  • Show your appreciation. In a normal year, you might send gifts to your donors or invite them to events.  If those things have been cut from your budget, you can still express sincere gratitude often for free.  Assign donors to team members and make those personal thank you calls.  Write handwritten notes.  Emails are not as effective, but if postage is a concern, it’s better than nothing.  Create a virtual donor thank you wall on your website and share it with donors. Celebrate them and their stories on social media. (With permission, of course.) Make sure you thank your staff, as well. Let them know you appreciate their flexibility and engagement during this long ordeal. Is there a way you can reward them with extra time off or publicly thanking them?
  • Keep your eyes and ears open.  Network with other leaders in your sector and find out how they are coping, advancing, strategizing.  Borrow the best ideas.  Here’s a tip that will get me in trouble with my former colleagues in consulting, but when I called on non-profits, I gave away a lot of free information in order to bring them in as clients.  If you’ve had to jettison outside help from your organization to cut costs, keep in touch with your former paid advisers and glean their blogs and websites for free info you can use.  You can even kick the tires on new consulting relationships that you might be in a position to begin paying for later in the year.

Doing more with less is all about re-thinking where you are and where you want to be, then assessing what strategies will work with the resources you still have.  It may not be a smooth ride, but you can still achieve your goals and fulfill your mission with excellence in another lean year like 2021.

Dear Christian Radio, take the time to look more closely at the facts and figures in your data sets, listen well, be grateful and show it, and keep your friends and colleagues close in this new year.  If you do all that, I promise things will work out just fine. Maybe. With a lot of prayer!


Jerry Grimes
Vice President, Creative Services
Positive Alternative Radio


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