I’m issuing a Valentine’s Day Challenge: to give yourself, and each other, a little love.

Fundraising is not an easy job.  With so many charities out there, it’s getting harder and harder to make our messages stand out. Often the fundraising department, or even the sole fundraiser, in an organisation is set apart from the other departments.  Worse, fundraising is often seen as a “necessary evil”, that is to be tolerated rather that appreciated and respected.

This is despite the fact that fundraisers, in my experience, are just as passionate about the causes they work for as other members of the team, and that without their efforts, many organizations would not survive. All these factors can create considerable pressure, and there is nothing wrong with saying that we all need to pay more attention to self-love, and looking out for each other. Here are just a few of the ways we can do this.

Show appreciation to each other.  

There are so many ways through which you can demonstrate love to your fundraisers and that you appreciate what they are doing, and that you care.  Whether it’s surprising them with a cupcake or coffee, saying thank you, or even if it is just telling them how much you admire them and that their efforts are valued, these are all simple gestures that can mean the world of difference.  If you are a fundraiser, reach out to other fundraisers that you know, in your organization, or elsewhere and tell them they are doing a great job. If your fundraiser friend is happens to be having a bad day, your words of appreciation will be all the more welcome.

Set boundaries.

Often driven by the responsibility for raising funds to pay for the important work that our organizations do, as well as the targets that we have to reach, as a group fundraisers are prone to burnout, neglecting their own health and often guilty of not setting boundaries on our personal time.    Whether you are in a small or a large organization this feeling can be crippling, and can even have a negative impact upon your outcomes, since your efficiency can decline as you work longer hours and become more stressed. By setting good boundaries between work and play, you can create a better balance that can lead to better results as well as a happier life.

Have realistic expectations.

As someone who has evolved through his career into a person who is proud to say I am a fundraiser, I admit to having nights where I wake up at 3 a.m. worrying about all the things I haven’t gotten to and all the opportunities that we could get to. By focusing our attention on the right fundraising strategies (rather than just trying to do everything) and by having realistic expectations in relation to the implementation of them, we are more likely to achieve our goals, and feel good about them. But more than that, we should also be building in strategies too to ensure that we look after ourselves, including scheduling time into our day for exercise and relaxation.

Celebrate success.

When you can see evidence of your success around you, it can boost morale as well as increase motivation.  For example, I once volunteered for a summer camp where we had a gratitude wall where you could write each other notes thanking someone for their help and telling them something positive.  I took the camp photo and framed it with all my thank you notes each year and put it in my office so I could look at it.

If you are lucky enough to love working in an organization where you get direct client feedback stick it up on the walls around you.  Put it in a place where you can see it when you’re on the phone and when you need to remember what could inspire the person on the other end.    Invest in some sticky notes and right down small things that happen that you want to celebrate.  If your feedback is a little less direct and you don’t actually hear from clients then go ahead and put up photos of your events, volunteers and anything else that reminds you of why your role is important and the little successes along the way.   In other words anything that makes you smile.

Disconnect!

We can all get really invested in what we are doing and we might want to stay in touch, all the time, to ensure that things are going well, or that we can act on things when they might not be going so well, but it’s important to give your brain some space.  This includes ensuring that you have other things to do to distract you and cause some separation, whether it’s yoga or talking regular walks (including during the day), do something that helps you to re-connect to the outside work.

So think about how you can give yourself a psychological hug by paying more attention to your needs.  And if you manage fundraisers, think about how you can support them to be healthier, happier, full of love, and more equipped to do a better job.  Not just for Valentine’s Day, but all year round.

About the author

As Director of Resource Development and Member Services at the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, Derek is responsible for bringing together members, donors and corporate partners to drive positive, progressive change to end animal cruelty, improve animal protection and promote the humane treatment of all animals.

As a volunteer, not only is Derek the President of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Ottawa Chapter (AFP Ottawa), he also serves on the board of the Ten Oaks Project and the Fundraising Committee of the Candlelighters, all causes close to his heart.  Connect with Derek on LinkedIn or Twitter @derekdelouche

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The importance of Strategic Planning for Fundraising Success

Building a culture of philanthropy: Five signs that your fundraising could be in trouble!

Engaging your Board in Fundraising and Sponsorship

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