The power of the humble post-it note


Oft maligned and mocked as the sign of a dreadful brainstorm, the humble post-it can help you in all walks of fundraising  — from project management to idea generation for a new campaign.

I am an Innovation Manager at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, therefore I have a drawer full of post-its and a smartphone full of pictures of post-its. Yes, I am a living cliché and I make no apologies for that, but here’s why I’m such a fan of post-it notes:

1. Their size

You can’t write much on them, which forces you to be concise with your words. You can also fit a lot of them on a wall.

2. Their movability

Once you’ve written something in a notebook, there it shall live forever. However post-its are movable, which means that as thoughts move around in your head, you can move post-its (your thoughts) around on a wall and put them into a logical sequence.

3. Their different colours

Visually tagging, or grouping, using colour makes it easier to make sense of large amounts of info and can help you to identify themes or commonalities. Plus, who doesn’t like a wall full of pretty colours?

Here are some nifty ways that post-its can transform your life:

1. Project management

Struggling to put in order all the tasks that you need to complete for a project? Write them up on post-it notes, using different colours for different streams of work and then you can move them around in a logical order. This helps you to really visualise your project.

Post-it notes

2. Helps you stay neutral

When you facilitate a workshop, a brainstorm or chair a meeting, it’s hard not to pre-filter ideas and suggestions if you’re writing notes. If you’re using post-it notes and putting them up for all to see you won’t only make notes of what YOU feel is relevant. It also means that everyone in the room feels like they are being listened to and that their opinion, ideas and feedback matters.

3. Stakeholder mapping

How often do you start a project with a huge list of stakeholders that you’re told you need to ‘keep in the loop’? Combine post-its with a RACI or Influence matrix to plot out a more effective stakeholder engagement plan.

RACI matrix

4. Analysing quantative feedback

It’s fairly easy to deal with quantitative feedback and create a fancy graph or pie chart but how do you deal with more anecdotal supporter comments or free text? It can be a nightmare trying to pull out what is really important and draw comparisons across a large volume of responses. But there can be real gems of insight in there that could make all the difference to your campaign.

By spending an hour or so with colleagues writing out any feedback that jumps out at you on to post-its and then grouping them on a wall, you can create sense out of what feels like endless, unconnected words.

Do you have any other tips for using post-it notes? Please share them in the comments below.

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Lesley is innovation and product development manager at Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer. She has worked for non-profits for over 10 years across the arts, international development, social welfare, mental health and medical research. Lesley is proud to be a jack of all trades with experience of every nearly form of fundraising as well as digital projects and social media.