Let’s be real for a second. Fundraising is a really, really hard job.
Yes, it’s a great profession! You go to work every day and make a difference in the world. Connecting donors to the causes they love is unbelievably fulfilling. Seeing your hard work make an impact is fantastic. But it’s also a job! It can be stressful, it can make you feel like the world is on your shoulders, and it can leave you burned-out if you’re not careful. Burnout is a huge problem in the nonprofit industry!
Since we’re going into the busiest time of year for many fundraisers, it’s time to take a step back and plan for how to get through it. You’re a valuable part of your nonprofit’s team. They need you—and they need you to be at the top of your game! Here are some strategies that will help you prevent burnout during the industry’s most hectic season.
Set Boundaries and Stick to Them
This one is hard! But it’s also necessary. Decide where you need to draw your boundaries and stick. to. them.
Nobody will have exactly the same boundaries. Decide what works for you. If you’re exceptionally busy, you might not be able to set the same boundaries that you have throughout the year. Here are some examples of good boundaries:
- I may be available outside office hours, but I won’t answer my phone after 7 p.m.
- The Christmas gala is important, but I have to be gone by 10 p.m.
- I’ll work late on week nights, but I won’t work on weekends
- No matter how busy it gets, I need to take at least 45 minutes for lunch
Remember, different people have different boundaries. But knowing your limits, communicating them to your team, and planning your work accordingly is so important! Carving out time for yourself is critical if you want to prevent burnout and keep yourself as un-stressed as possible.
Have you ever gotten weepy because you’re exhausted or angry when you’re hungry? I know I have! Prevent that kind of response by making self-care a regular part of your routine. Whatever self-care looks like for you, put it on your to-do list. Go for a walk. Meditate for a minute. Have a Christmas cookie. Go to bed early. Share a glass of wine with someone.
Self-care is, above all things, giving ourselves what we need to stay physically and mentally well. The things that keep us healthy and happy—like sleeping, eating what our bodies need, and paying attention to stress levels—are often the first things out the window when we get busy. Think of those behaviors and patterns as tasks instead of options. Prioritize taking care of yourself! You’ll stay healthier, and that will help you cope with the inevitable stress of the year-end fundraising push.
Reconnect with Your Mission
Scrambling to meet deadlines, last-minute pushes to reach fundraising goals, major donor meetings… schedules get wild this time of year! Add in social obligations, events, and family outings and you’ve got a recipe for burnout.
That burnout can be exacerbated when you’re disconnected from the world-changing impact you make every day. Change your focus! If the passion you have for your mission has gotten lost in the fundraising deadlines and budget conversations, it can make a huge difference. What can you do to reconnect with your mission?
Getting out into the field is always a great way to reconnect. If it’s not possible, here are other options you can try:
- Read through past appeals that share great client stories. This is also a great way to find inspiration for your fundraising campaign!
- Watch videos you’ve used in past campaigns, especially if they’re story-driven.
- Spend some time writing little notes in outgoing Christmas cards for your donors or board members.
- Call a donor or two to thank them for their gift and ask them why they decided to support your work.
Spending time reconnecting with your mission is a great way to keep what really matters—the work you do and the impact you have on the world—at the front of your brain. It’s easy to lose your passion when you’re busy and stressed out. Don’t let that happen to you!
Burnout is a big problem in the nonprofit industry! Rushing to meet deadlines and stretching to meet goals can take a toll on you. Prioritizing self-care, setting boundaries, and being careful to stay connected to your mission will help keep you happy and healthy during the busiest part of year. Be careful out there, friends—happy fundraising!