Your 4 minute guide to surviving year-end

year-end fundraising

There’s a crucial key to year-end fundraising success that many of us overlook. 

It’s not about your case, or your copy, or your campaigns…

Those are all important to your fundraising success, but there is one thing that’s more important than all the latest and greatest fundraising tactics and strategies put together. 

And that’s YOU. 

I learned this truth the hard way, by reaching the point of full-on work related burnout before I understood that, without the people at the heart of it, our fundraising is nothing.

That’s why I put together this quick 4 minute read on surviving this hectic, high pressure, year-end fundraising season. 

(Because let's face it, what fundraiser has much more than four minutes to spare at this time of year?) 

Okay, let’s dive right in with tip number one:

        1. Know that, at some point, your goals are going to go off the rails

This is going to happen, over and over, during the course of your fundraising career. 

If there's one thing I've learned in 25 years of fundraising, there will be mistakes. There will be missteps. There will be mess ups. There will be tech fails. 

If it can go wrong, it will. There is just no way around it. 

There are always going to be mistakes. The best thing you can do is learn from them, let them go, and move on. 

The most successful fundraisers are persistent -  they get right back at it, and get back on track no matter what happens.

        2. Accept that most things are outside of your control

This idea is a really hard one for many of us to accept - especially those of us who identify as Type A personalities. 

But the reality is the only things you can control are your own actions and your own feelings. 

You can't control the decisions, actions, or feelings of others, including your donors, your coworkers, and your family members. 

So recognizing and starting to accept that many things are actually out of your control can be a big weight off of your shoulders, especially this time of year.

        3. Recognize that the tough-on-yourself approach doesn’t work 

I've noticed that a lot of fundraisers are very hard on themselves.

We engage in a lot of unproductive self criticism and negative self talk, and speak to ourselves in ways we would never imagine speaking with a colleague or a donor or a family member. 

The reality is, the being-tough-on-yourself approach doesn’t work - I learned this and more when I had the opportunity to sit down with psychologist Dr. Adia Gooden to speak about fundraiser burnout, and why self-compassion is actually more productive than being your own worst critic.

        4. Don’t negotiate sleep, diet or exercise

If you're anything like me, good sleep, diet, and exercise patterns are the first things to go out the window when things get stressful, especially this time of year.

If I'm pressed for time, I'll often negotiate these things away. For example, waking up an hour or two early, sleeping six hours instead of seven, just to get a little bit of extra time to work.

But these negotiations are never fruitful. For example, I know when I don't get enough sleep, I'm less productive, creative, and patient the next day. 

So keep in mind how important these things are and don't negotiate away whatever works for you in terms of diet, sleep, and exercise. Just try your best to keep it up!

I hope you found some of these tips helpful…and hang in there, the end of the year is almost here!


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