I think we all can agree on this—a career as a fundraising professional is one of the most coveted professions in existence. What better way to dedicate your life to the good of humanity by representing organizations that are making a true impact in the world?
As fundraisers, we have been fortunate enough to work in a “golden age” of philanthropy—a time in which organizations would reap the benefits of a massive generational wealth transfer, gains in the economy, and a rebound in the stock and housing markets.
This has contributed to robust growth in overall giving with charitable contributions topping well over $471 billion in 2020 (representing an increase of 3.8% adjusted for inflation).
All of this is encouraging news to those who work in this field.
However, given fundraisers’ (almost) post-pandemic fatigue because of their tireless efforts over the last year, it is important to take the time to recharge and be reminded of ways to continue to be effective as we head into the new normal.
- Get back in touch with your “why.”
The pandemic altered the way fundraisers conduct their business. There was a pivot from traditional methods (e.g., in-person visits, events, and tours) to the creation of innovative ways(e.g., virtual visits and webinars) to engage donors and prospects.
As development offices “built the plane while flying it,” fundraisers faced setbacks and challenges that may have altered their own perceptions of how effective they are.
Considering this head noise, now is the time to reflect upon reasons for “why” we got into this industry and reconnect with our original passions for working with organizations we serve. This soft reset could prove to be quite refreshing.
- Embrace the ambiguity—don’t run from it!
This builds on the importance of knowing your “why.” The truth is, no one really knows what the future holds for the charitable sector or the potential delayed effects of the pandemic.
As professionals, we may not have control over these things; however, we can control the following: our mentalities, our attitudes, and our beliefs in the profound impact we can have in our roles.
Moreover, we can control these things now. Relish in the fact that we are a part of a great profession and that whatever we may face, we have the undeniable capacity to adapt and overcome (an adage I learned in the Marine Corps).
- Stay enthusiastic—and active.
Motion creates emotion. Another thing within our scope of control is our ability to continue to be actively excited about we do.
We as fundraisers are “vital conduits” of transformation, positive change and hope. Let us be enthusiastically reminded of this in our daily interactions with everyone we work with.
- Be a lifelong learner—keep your mental wheels turning.
Although pandemic-related news is pervasive and all- consuming, compartmentalize it.
Take the time to learn something new, join or volunteer for an organization, or perhaps pursue a certification or educational credential you have been holding off on. This will reinvigorate and engage your brain and get you out of the day-to-day deluge.
- Realize failure is temporary—and necessary.
As the adage states, “If at first you don’t succeed….” We in this industry must maintain resilience in the face of defeat.
We experience many ups and downs as we go about our careers and at times, our plans go awry. Find encouragement in knowing that even Thomas Edison successfully failed at inventing the light bulb 1,000 times before it eventually came to fruition.
Know that an accumulation of your activities—not a single instance—will lead to the success that you seek as a fundraising professional.
- Reaffirm your commitment to greatness!
Remember that fundraising is the best profession there is. You joined the fundraising ranks because you made a commitment to improving humankind. Match this commitment with the greatness that is within you.
Wishing you the best in all your endeavors!