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Read This if the Thought of Fundraising in 2022 Makes You Feel Exhausted

By Ashley Gatewood posted 12-22-2021 14:23


Whether we like it or not, 2022 will ring in a new year of the same old COVID drama.

While we have the advantage this isn’t our first COVID rodeo, many of us are feeling our motivation and balance erode as the pandemic drags on in a disheartening shuffle of one step forward and one step back.

Labor markets worldwide continue to tighten, impacting nonprofits severely. The third sector has oft struggled to lure and retain motivated, savvy employees. This can be witnessed in staffing throughout nonprofits where churn is high and morale routinely crashes for a host of reasons.

Personally, I’ve never seen so many people in my LinkedIn network posting job vacancies at their organizations. “Come join our amazing team!” may become the fundraising department’s 2022 catch phrase.

Every time I see these posts, I know it means a team that was probably already running lean is down a person. Other teammates are scrambling to cover the missing person’s duties on top of their own dizzying to-do lists.

But before we all start RSVPing to what seems like 2022’s inevitable pity party, let’s take a minute to find the silver lining of going into another pandemic year.

We might be tired, but we’re smarter
Remember the frantic scrambling of March and April 2020? Or the feeling of lead growing in your stomach as you watched the days melt away in the lead up to your annual fundraising event and not knowing if it would be in-person, virtual, or scrapped altogether?

We’re done with the teething stage. We know how to leverage technology. We are in the groove of our remote office routines. We’ve found a way to keep going over the past 20 months and we will certainly find a way to keep charging forward over this next calendar year.

Use every remote-work hack, motivational skill, and destressing mechanism you’ve gained (whether you wanted to master it or not) over these last two years to march confidently into 2022.

Don’t let education fall by the wayside
“Ugh, don’t tell me to sit through one more webinar or virtual conference,” I hear you say between gritted teeth.

Spoiler alert: You’ve never needed a well-rounded set of fundraising skills more than now. Devote one lunch hour a week to participating in a webinar. It is crucial that you learn from other organizations—what is working, what is tanking.

There are hundreds of collective lessons our sector has learned in the last 20 months. Don’t think you need to walk the plank of trial-and-error alone. There is likely a case study about or someone in your network who has dipped their toe in whatever fundraising pool you’re considering diving into.

If you aren’t already (and I sure as heck hope you are), get onto other nonprofits’ email and mailing lists. Note what appeals to you, what is dull. See how others are navigating the year ahead. Be cautious not to duplicate their messaging but drink in the imagery they’re selecting and the calls to action they craft.

Fundraising with tunnel vision will never get you anywhere you want to go. Keep an ear to the ground and take away inspiration from those organizations moving ahead with panache.

Your donors aren’t tired of you
What is your favorite movie? How many times have you watched it? Twenty? Fifty? Do you get tired of it? No, because you love the story.

In fact, everyone loves a good story. Your donors are the same.

Now is the time to tell stories with a beginning, middle, and an end that will leave your readers misty eyed with emotion and ready to be part of your army.
Donors, and frankly all of us, are hungry for good news.

Shout out those victories like never before. Your organization is helming change during a time of upheaval. Don’t keep it to yourself.

Go easy on yourself
None of us thought we’d be living through an era where we are working diligently to keep ourselves and loved ones safe for nearly two years. It’s exhausting.
You weren’t prepared for this. I wasn’t prepared for this. No one was.

Don’t be hard on yourself when the world is hard enough.

Did your last DM piece have more fizzle than sizzle? Learn the lesson on how to improve it and move on. Was your virtual event plagued by technical glitches that are still giving your nightmares? Don’t sweat the past.

We’ve all learned that few things go to plan and more spin out of our control through no fault of our own than we ever imagined.

Go into 2022 with optimism, put your foot on the proverbial fundraising gas, and remember that you are one incredibly resilient, adaptable fundraising professional.