So this week, I'm here with your 4 minute guide to surviving year-end.
(Because let's face it, what fundraiser has much more than four minutes at this time of year?)
I made you a quick video you can watch below – if you’re looking for relevant links, or you prefer to read this blog the old fashioned way, you can scroll down for the transcript.
Okay, I’m going to 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, over the course of your fundraising career.
If there's one thing I've learned in almost 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.
The most important thing here is to get back up, dust yourself off, and get things back on track.
There are always going to be mistakes. The best thing you can do is learn from them, and move on.
The most successful fundraisers are persistent - so they get right back at it, and get back on track, no matter what happens.
My tip number two is related, and that is to…
2. Accept that most things are outside of your control
This one's really hard for us type A personalities to swallow, the fact that things are actually outside of our control.
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 that most things are actually out of your control can be a big weight off of your shoulders, especially this time of year.
3. Have some self-compassion
I've noticed that a lot of fundraisers are very hard on themselves, and we engage in a lot of unproductive self criticism and negative self talk. We speak to ourselves in a way we would never imagine speaking with a colleague or a donor or a family member.
Having some compassion for yourself is actually very productive. I've been reading a lot of interesting research lately from a doctor named Kristin Neff, who’s looking at how resilience during times of stress and self-compassion are very closely connected.
She has an interesting self-compassion self-assessment available on her website. I'm going to link that up on the video notes on my website if you want to have a look.
Test how self-compassionate you are
4. Don’t negotiate sleep, diet or exercise
My final tip is a tough one for me personally!
If you're anything like me, good sleep, diet, and exercise patterns are the first thing 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 have never turned out in my favor. 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, especially when we're under so much stress at year-end. And don't negotiate away whatever works for you in terms of diet, sleep, and exercise. Just try your best to keep it up!
And again, if you do mess up and fall off your goals, like I do pretty much on a daily basis, just get right back up again and get right back at it.
I'd love to hear your tips on coping during stressful times like year-end. I hope you'll leave a comment below and share your ideas with our community of fundraisers.
Thanks again for watching. And hang in there, the end of the year is almost here!
Emma Lewzey, CFRE is an award-winning fundraising expert with 20+ years experience raising millions of dollars across the arts, education, health and human services sectors. If you want to raise more 5, 6 and even 7-figure donations your non-profit, you can download Emma’s free Blueprint for Major Gift Success, and learn the 4 crucial steps to raising big gifts (at any size shop!)