Staying inspired when you’re starting from zero

Here we are at the beginning of 2018 – a fresh start, a new year, a blank slate!

And for fundraisers? We get the thrill of returning from the holidays to see our financial goal reset, crashing back down to a big, fat zero.

I used to think of the Greek myth of Sisyphus this time of year.

Poor Sisyphus was condemned for eternity to push a bolder up to the top of a hill, only to have it roll back down to the bottom again every time he got to the top.

But don’t despair – even though it may feel like you have a Sisyphean task ahead of you, there are all sorts of ways you can jump start 2018 so you can have your best fundraising year yet.

Get energized by sharing your gratitude

What a perfect time of year to pick up the phone and call all those donors who gave to you over the busy year end season.

Not only will you get your year started off right by improving your donor retention – but reconnecting with generous folks who care about your cause is also a great way to get energized!

Make sure you are well prepared for your calls – but don’t waste this precious opportunity to connect with your donors by robotically reeling off a generic script. Plan to ask some great questions, and start a real conversation.

One of my personal favourite questions for donors: what inspired your gift?

Simone Joyaux also has a great PDF of questions to ask your donors to get you started.

Sure, not everyone's going to want to chat – but for those who do want to engage, this is where some real relationship magic can happen.

You’ve accomplished so much – take time to celebrate!

Have you and your team reflected on and celebrated the successes you had in 2017?

This should be a top priority for your first week back!

Even if you’re a one-person shop, reach out to other fundraising colleagues outside of your organization, and book a lunch, coffee or drink for the express purpose of celebrating all you’ve achieved (don’t have a circle of support? Make it a priority to build one in 2018!).

Here’s another question to get you started - what’s one thing that happened last year that you are most proud of, and why?

Taking time to connect with your colleagues and celebrate together can be a great way to banish the January blues – not to mention giving you some great fundraising inspiration for the year ahead.

Get excited about your fundraising future

What are you looking forward to in 2018?

Are you planning to start or grow your bequest program? Spend more face time with your major donors? Is this the year you get serious about your own professional development plan?

While starting back at zero can feel intimidating, there’s something invigorating about starting over with a blank slate.

What are you most excited about when it comes to fundraising? What part of your work really makes you come alive when you do it?

Take some time to figure out what really excites you about fundraising, and make a commitment to do more of it!

How are you staying inspired when you are starting from zero? Do you have any favourite resources or ideas that help you get focused and inspired when returning to your desk after the holidays? What are you most excited about for the coming fundraising year?

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