Small but Mighty: How to Power Through When Your Staff is Low

So you’re short-staffed again? It happens. People move on to other opportunities, budgets can get tight ― whatever factors led to being an understaffed organization, it’s left up to you to figure out how to continue business as usual. While you’re in this weird limbo state, it seems like the tasks keep piling up as the world is chugging ahead at full speed. 

Take a deep breath. We’ve got this. Use this checklist when you are short-staffed to help you reorganize your organization to get you back on track.

On the same page

First order of business: have a meeting ― and get the whole staff in on it. Sit down and talk through a game plan. This is essential to making sure everyone’s on the same page. It’s time to talk to your team so they know what you need from them, and what they need from you. Once you have a game plan, you can start to implement real changes. Some of the things you should talk about are: assigning roles, creating checklists and delegating/outsourcing tasks.

Assigning roles

Roles are essential to clearing up any confusion and streamlining productivity. If each employee in an organization is wearing tons of different hats, it can be frustrating to know who to go to for what. But if you know exactly who has the know-how and the time to dedicate to each issue, you can speed up the whole process. It not only makes the process faster, but better because you know it’s what that person does best.

Creating checklists

Once everyone knows what areas they’re focusing on, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. Discuss what areas need more focus than others, prioritize tasks and make individual checklists to keep everyone on track. Seeing everything you’re assigned to not only helps you to prioritize and make a plan of attack, but it also helps you feel like you’re moving forward. Every time you finish a task, you can check it off the list and feel a bit of pride for your hard work and progress.

Delegating/Outsourcing Tasks

Because you have fewer people, there are bound to be things that’ll slip through the cracks and you won’t be able to cover them. This is where you can look into delegating or outsourcing some of the smaller tasks to people outside of your core team. This can be done through recruiting volunteers to come help out, or you can find software or other resources to make tasks a bit easier and faster. 

Nonprofit Hub can provide plenty of informational resources like our Ultimate Budget Guide and Social Media Guide, and hundreds of blog posts to make life a bit easier. Learn the ins and outs of donor management software, social media scheduling and fundraising and how you can still focus on them without using nearly as much manpower.

A short-staffed dream team

If you’re getting stressed about everything, chances are that the rest of your team is feeling it too. While it’s important to know your game plan and get to work, you’re all still human. It’s important to use this time to appreciate your coworkers. Take some time to talk with them about their lives, ask them how their day is going ― anything to show that you care about them. And don’t be afraid to joke around every once in a while, being short-staffed doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun.

A new chapter

Overall, being short-staffed is the start of a new phase of your organization. There will be changes, new people and new ideas. Embrace it! Use the past to build your future and set goals for what you want to become. Once you get resituated and back on sturdy ground, you can look back at how you handled everything and be proud.


Olivia Layne

As a Content Strategist for Nonprofit Hub, Olivia writes blog posts and magazine articles. She is a double major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, studying Journalism and Advertising and Public Relations. In her free time, Olivia enjoys baking, playing video games, and hiking.

August 26, 2019

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