July 6, 2018

One of the more challenging aspects of the deadline-oriented world of grant writing is taking the time to step away from work for a vacation.

At Elevate we wholeheartedly believe that vacation is important, and we encourage staff to use their vacation time as they please. Furthermore, when on vacation, we encourage staff to truly disconnect from work and avoid checking email or taking work-related phone calls. But doing this successfully – and without negatively impacting our clients and colleagues – requires some planning and preparation.

By doing a bit of planning ahead prior to their vacation, nonprofit professionals can comfortably step away from their work without leaving their colleagues to struggle in their absence. We’ve outlined some of our vacation planning best practices below. Regardless of your organization’s size and structure, these steps will help your staff adequately plan for their time away, anticipate challenges that may arise, and provide contingencies for unforeseen circumstances.

Vacation Planning Steps
  • First things first: request time off through the appropriate channels (we use BambooHR for all our time-off requests) and provide plenty of notice. Confirm that your vacation request is approved before making travel plans.
  • Discuss your plans for vacation with your supervisor and identify specific areas of support you and/or your teams may need.
  • Inform your colleagues and teams in advance about your vacation plans. Elevate’s internal rule of thumb for a vacation lasting one week is to give one month’s notice to your teams about your planned absence. If a major deadline or project falls during your planned vacation, additional notice may be appropriate.
  • Review your meeting schedule and identify any important meetings that are scheduled while you are away. Where appropriate, develop a plan for any meetings scheduled during your vacation. This might include rescheduling check-ins with team members and supervisor, and identifying whether you will miss an all-staff or larger team meeting.
    • If you typically lead a meeting that is scheduled for while you are out, you will generally have two options: 1) Reschedule or 2) Prep your team to carry on in your absence. If meetings are to be rescheduled, you should provide as much notice as possible. If meetings are to go on in your absence, we recommend preparing agendas and talking points with your team in advance of your departure. If you are comfortable having a colleague lead the meeting, ensure that they have the information and resources they need, as well as talking points about how to address decisions they are not comfortable making in your absence. (For example, “I’ll flag that for Jill as soon as she returns from vacation next week.”)
  • Remember to set an out of office message that indicates the dates you will be out of the office and who to contact if something urgent comes up while you are away.
  • After your vacation, review your to-do list (we use Asana for internal task management) and touch base with your team members to recap what took place while you were away!
Additional Considerations for Grant Writers
  • Deadline planning: Review your grant calendar(s) and identify deadlines during and immediately after your vacation.
    (Don’t have a grants calendar? Check out our blog post on how to create one for your organization!)
  • Draft and submission planning: Plan ahead for any drafts or submissions that are due during and immediately following your vacation. As much as possible, work ahead to prepare drafts in advance of your vacation. With your supervisor and/or team, develop a plan for drafts that will need to be drafted, revised, or submitted while you are away. If you are asking a colleague to assist with any drafts in your absence, provide them with ample notice that you will need their help. Make sure your team has all the information needed to manage any submissions that may need to take place while you are out.

What other tips do you have for successful vacation planning? Share them with us on Facebook, and join the conversation!

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