When you’re starting a non-profit, nothing comes easy.

Non-profit administration tasks like accounting, web maintenance, and event planning seem to rule your day.

You’ve got a mountain of email to respond to.

You need to finish accounting for the donations raised that week.

You need to focus time on your advocacy goals you set for the year.

…not to mention the errors you discovered on your latest mailing that someone just noticed… as they were sending to the printer!

Most days you probably feel more like a firefighter than a nonprofit leader. Especially for those just starting a non-profit. There’s as lot to be done in those early days.

The online world is buzzing about the merits of starting a business with outsourced help. I’m here to tell you that when it comes to starting and running a nonprofit, non-profit outsourcing for basic non-profit administration tasks is a solid solution.

Here are five ideas (plus one bonus) you can use to outsource business functions when starting your nonprofit.

Idea #1 – Outsource Nonprofit Customer Service

As much as possible, you need to outsource customer service to a well-trained representative of your nonprofit. I’m not talking a complete 100% outsourcing of customer service – of course you’ll always want to maintain a relationship with your donors – but for those nonprofits providing service to the community, or to donors in exchange for their financial support, it is a good idea to offload this time-consuming task.

Of course, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do this. I’ve talked at length about hiring full-time help to start a nonprofit, and also filling you in on the secrets to outsourcing for a nonprofit. Don’t make the mistake of outsourcing customer service to someone not completely invested in your mission and trained on the finer points of communicating with your customers and supporters.

Idea #2 – Outsource Nonprofit Bookkeeping

You’re not a bookkeeper, unless maybe you are a nonprofit serving bookkeepers, in which case you probably really, really enjoy bookkeeping.

For the rest of us, tracking income and expenses are more numbers than we prefer to deal with. Bookkeeping is one of those things that becomes a straightforward exercise as our world becomes more digitized.

Find someone you trust, give them a test drive and have the work checked by an accountant you trust. Then remove the training wheels and let your outsourced help manage your nonprofit’s bookkeeping. Obviously you still need legal advice from your accountant, but a majority of things like data entry of your accounts or invoices can be easily outsourced.

Idea #3 – Outsource Nonprofit Marketing & Advertising

Here’s the secret that no one told you in your management classes – advertising and marketing is a big part of what you should be doing as a nonprofit leader, but it isn’t something you should spend a lot of YOUR time on. That is, you need to provide the high level direction so that your voice and the voice of your nonprofit comes through. But for the crunchy, time consuming stuff, this should be outsourced.

A lot of nonprofits make the mistake of engaging a pricey media firm. Great if they are willing to do it pro bono, but there are just too many nonprofits out there for these media firms to get to every one of them.

What people don’t realize is that it’s actually very simple to have outsourced help distributing, even designing your ads and marketing. There are great graphics designers out there you can hire full-time for cheap.

Idea #4 – Outsource Nonprofit Web Site Promotion

You’ve got a web site. That’s a fact. And if you don’t, check out Smart Social Enterprise’s guide to getting a web site up and running for your nonprofit.

Search engine optimization (SEO) experts can help you you promote your site. Let them be the ones building backlinks (boosts your search engine rankings), driving traffic to it, and building buzz through social media channels. These sorts of things are time consuming, and quite frankly, not a good use of your time.

Idea #5 – Outsource Technical Work

Working as an engineer and doing technical work for six years has me convinced – this kind of work is a huge time suck. Technical service representatives are the last line of defense – they are the people to go to when there are no easy answers. And finding these tough answers is not fast work.

You don’t want to get stuck figuring out why your submit button on your email form isn’t working on your site. You don’t need to be maintaining your network servers. Outsource that! There are plenty of high value candidates who are detail-oriented and love this kind of technical work. Leverage that at your nonprofit.

Bonus Idea – Hire a Virtual Manager to Manage Your Nonprofit’s Outsourced Work

I just gave you five ways to outsource work at your non-profit.

Now you’re left wondering – how do I manage all that. And I say – don’t. Instead, hire someone else to manage all that.

And the best part? You can outsource that as well!

Search for virtual assistants with management experience and you’ll find a large pool of qualified candidates. Many of these VAs come with experience in tasks mentioned above, like web site management, marketing, or SEO.

Have you used outsourcing at your non-profit?

Please share your experiences with non-profit outsourcing with the community. Have you hired non-profit administration help? How about a non-profit secretary? Someone who can keep your contacts straight and stay on top of donor relations? More to come on the customer relationship piece – making your donors feel loved with personal attention is a great way to grow your funding based.