Dialing for Dollars: The Follow-up Call
December 8, 2011
Before You Leave the Office This Week…
December 20, 2011

Happy Fundraisers Make for Happy Nonprofits

Listen up.  This is a nutty, high-pressure time of year and I feel compelled to say this: Take a deep breath. Right now.  Pat yourself on the back.  Get up and walk around (after you finish reading my blog, of course!).  It’ll be over soon!

Jody Shupac from Charity Village wrote a nice piece this week about stress in the nonprofit sector.  While she focused primarily on client service staff, we fundraisers suffer from a lot of the same issues including emotional involvement in our work, heavy demand and limited resources. Not to mention the stress of financial goals!

It all comes to head in December as the giving season peaks and for many of you the fiscal year draws to a close.  You’ve been implementing a great year-end program, you’re making your calls, but in the end, you’re really just waiting.  And, everyone around you is waiting too, and asking you to tell them definitely what simply cannot be known until it happens…will you or won’t you meet goal?  It’s tough stuff.

I point this out not to make you more stressed, but to remind you that you’re not alone.  And also to implore you to do whatever you can to stay sane through all of it.

We can’t afford to have you “burn out.”  A resilient organization needs a resilient team.  Here are some tips from Jody’s blog and a few of my own:

Get away from your desk for lunch.  Have lunch with colleagues and enjoy a good laugh.  Go for a walk.  Get some fresh air.  It is not a luxury.  It’s a necessity.  You will be better at your job in the afternoon if you take a mental and physical break.

Establish boundaries.  You have a right to a personal life.  Really.  Don’t respond to emails at 10:30 at night.  Don’t agree to foreshorten your vacation.  Say, “no” to unrealistic demands.  It is not unprofessional to set realistic, fair boundaries and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  Life’s too short.

Celebrate.  Let everyone know when a nice gift comes in.  Eat some chocolate.  Jump up and down.  Acknowledge the successes of others on your team, from the ED on down.

Connect to your mission.  When I worked at the Museum of Science and Industry, all staff members were expected to take shifts “working the floor” during the busy holiday season.  We’d emerge from our offices and interact directly with our visitors.  My heart lifts even now when I think about the joy I got from seeing where the dollars I was raising were going.  I’d return to my office recharged and re-motivated to keep those dollars rolling in.

So, dear Front Range Source readers, take care of yourselves and your colleagues.  We need you to be happy and healthy for the health of our sector.

Now, get up and go for that walk!

1 Comment

  1. John Burke says:

    Wish I said all this. Wish I had WRITTEN it. Wish I had seen it early enough to repost or to reference for my own blog readers. (Blog is placed in hiatus until first of the year, a step that accords w/your advice.) But I did share your comments with our employees, who endure the same seasonal pressure as a nonprofit staff. Your advice is well conceived and well expressed.

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