We’ve all read about how to crush our year-end fundraising goals. We know how to plan, execute, and wrap up a campaign. But what we don’t often discuss in the nonprofit industry is how to get through the year-end fundraising crush with our sanity intact.
I hope these tips help you navigate the last several months of this year. It’s an intensely busy time of year. Take steps to take care of yourself!
Automate What Year-End Fundraising Assets You Can
Part of the challenge of year-end fundraising is the sheer number of details you have to manage. Lighten your mental load by automating some functions ahead of time.
Start writing and creating automated thank-you emails. Compile and segment donor lists that you can save for future use. Build and schedule social posts you know you’ll make now so you won’t have to think about them later. You might even be able to write and save drafts for newsletters that will go out at the end of the year.
To-do lists get a little wild toward the end of the year. Anything you can do now instead of then will help you stay organized and reduce stress!
Schedule Some Off Time
If you’re a fundraiser, you’re probably not going to be taking long, luxurious vacations any time soon. But that doesn’t mean you should neglect off time entirely!
Burnout is an enormous problem in the nonprofit industry, and the end of the year can be intensely stressful for staff. Prioritizing off time—even if it’s just a few hours at a time—is an important way to avoid exhausting yourself.
Whether you schedule a lunch out with friends once a month or set aside an hour or two for yourself a couple times a week, work on setting time to do something that rejuvenates or relaxes you. If you love going for a long walk in the woods, vegging out with popcorn and a movie, or taking naps, dedicate time to do those things—and guard that time jealously. When work gets stressful, it’s easy to sacrifice your time to get more things done. And that’s okay! Sometimes, working late at night or on a weekend is necessary. But it’s bad for your mental (and physical!) health to neglect yourself entirely.
Focus on Gratitude
This year-end fundraising period, make gratitude something you intentionally cultivate. Personally, I can get stressed out and irritable when I’m very busy or working hard to reach a stretch goal. Do you?
Focusing on gratitude is a powerful way to combat the negative feelings that can arise during a stressful period.
There are a zillion different ways to cultivate gratitude. I love it when development staff starts their day by writing a few thank-you notes or calling a few donors to thank them for their gifts. But there are other options! Consider practicing gratitude by:
- Highlighting awesome donors or volunteers at staff meetings
- Jotting down a few things you’re thankful for in your planner every day
- Making a point of sincerely thanking someone who does you a favor
This article suggests that practicing gratitude has effects like improved sleep, better physical health, improved mental resilience and self-esteem, and more. It’s a great tool to have handy during the busiest time of the year!
Care for Your Team
You and your colleagues—even those outside the development department—are all gearing up for the end of the year. Support each other! Tough days are easier when you’re surrounded by encouraging coworkers. Fostering relationships with your co-workers is important year-round, but it’s especially crucial around the end of the year. Low morale in an office can exacerbate stress. Avoid that stress spiral! Whether you head up occasional team lunches or do something as small as keeping a candy bowl on your desk, take steps to keep your team in good spirits.
You’re getting ready to enter a busy, exciting, exhilarating time of year. You’re going to reach new donors, inspire loyal ones, and help your community in a valuable, tangible way. Even though the year-end fundraising period is an thrilling time of year, it can also be very stressful. Busy work days, long hours, and goals and deadlines are almost unavoidable during the last months of the year!
You can counteract much of the stress associated with year-end fundraising by building and automating as many assets as possible before crunch-time. That, compared with setting aside time for yourself, proactively caring for your colleagues, and intentionally practicing gratitude can help you thrive amid the joys and stressors of working in development.
Want more self-care tips? Check out this article for ways you can (constructively) use your downtime when you need a break.