It’s no secret that fundraising requires hard work, dedication, and a lot of patience. From a donor’s credit card expiring to seemingly tedious data entry, there are certainly times fundraising may not be your favorite part of your job. Yet, it is an essential component to serving your cause and mission. Rather than dread it when the going gets tough, you can take steps to put the fun in fundraising and remain positive. Here, we share five ways to ignite your passion for fundraising.
1. Remember Why You Do This
Remember when you first heard the words “you’re hired” at your current job? You were likely filled with joy to know you’d soon be contributing to an important mission. Yet sometimes this feeling of joy and excitement for your job can fade when difficult tasks are thrown your way. When you start to feel fundraising burn-out, remind yourself why you likely took the job to begin with: the cause.
Another way to spark enthusiasm for your career again is to spend some time with your constituents. Sometimes seeing is believing, and you may just need a quick reminder of who your work impacts each day. You don’t necessarily need to work in programs to get face-time with the individuals you serve. Volunteer to help out the next time there’s an opportunity to assist their team. You’ll walk away from the experience with a full heart and the motivation to approach your fundraising tactics with new energy.
2. Practice Gratitude
When you feel as though you aren’t measuring up to your development goals, it can take a toll on your mind. You may inevitably begin to doubt yourself and have negative thoughts around your performance. To squash negative thoughts, practice writing down the aspects of your job you are grateful for. Before you head home at the end of the day, take a few minutes to write down one good thing that happened at work.
In addition to improving your mindset at work, positive thinking can also improve your overall mental health and well-being. A recent study found that even one thought of gratitude produces an immediate 10 percent increase in happiness and reduces stress by 35 percent. In a study published in the Journal of Research in Personality, a group of 90 students were placed into two groups. The first group wrote about positive experiences for three consecutive days. The other group wrote about a control topic. Three months later, the students who had written about positive experiences had more positive moods, less trips to the health center, and were sick less often than the control group. Positivity prevailed.
3. Put the FUN in Fundraising
If you’re not having fun at your job, it’s likely going to have a negative impact on your work. You may not even be aware of it, but you’ll slowly begin to lose enthusiasm, motivation, and passion. This can translate into a loss of momentum and in the case of fundraising, a loss of donations.
On the flip side, if you’re having fun, it helps both you and those around you (your fundraisers, volunteers, and fellow staff members) adopt the same attitude. In order to make fundraising a more enjoyable experience, consider finding opportunities to make it fun for your donors. For example, you can set up a rewards structure based on giving levels for your recurring giving program, give a donor a social media shout-out, or host a charity 5K run. When you make your fundraising more interactive and engaging for your donors, they’ll feel a stronger connection to your organization and feel more compelled to give. Shift your focus to delighting your donors, and you too will begin having more fun in your work.
4. Try Not to Let “No” Discourage You
In the development world, rejection is part of the job. Yet, if you let a “no” discourage you and prevent you from reaching out to as many fundraisers as possible, it will cause you to miss opportunities and leave money on the table.
As difficult as it is to face rejection, you have to make a concerted effort to understand that hearing no is part of the process. Try not to take it personally and realize that donors aren’t rejecting you and your work—many factors go into someone’s decision to contribute. Even if they do say no today, this doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t give down the road after they learn more about your organization or attend one of your events.
5. Stay Organized
One surefire way to minimize stress during fundraising is to stay organized. Organization can best be achieved by creating a plan at the start of your fundraising campaign. Your plan will help you and your team:
- Stay on track
- Set measurable goals
- Keep track of progress
- Set manageable deadlines
- Avoid feeling overwhelmed
- Eliminate last minute tasks
You can also simplify fundraising campaign planning by turning to trusted resources. This will help you take the guesswork out of campaign planning and give you a jumping off point. For example, you can take advantage of our campaign field guide to get the need-to-know and stay organized. This three-part series helps fundraisers better understand their donors, plan a campaign, and build a communication strategy and it’s complete with customizable worksheets and templates.
6. Treat Yourself
When you were younger, your parents may have awarded you with a treat when you aced a test. While you might be older, it’s still just as important to reward yourself in the work place. When you tackle a tough feat, such as hitting your attendance goal at an upcoming event you’re hosting, do something that makes you happy to celebrate your hard work. Whether it’s planning a weekend getaway or just buying your favorite sushi roll for lunch, rewards help keep you motivated.
Be sure to choose a reward that will be meaningful to you ahead of time so that you’ll be more compelled to work towards it. If you have multiple goals you’d like to reach, set benchmarks and incentive levels based on the difficulty of the task you are trying to achieve. For example, if your goal is to send 1,000 handwritten thank you cards to new donors in the hopes of nurturing them into recurring givers, set small rewards for every 100 cards you write to keep you going.
Fundraising may not always be the most exciting aspect of your job but it is the most necessary. Rather than get bogged down by it, practice these six tips to embrace it and stay positive. As the old adage goes, “nothing good comes easy,” and when you see the impact you’re fundraising efforts create, you’ll know all your hard work paid off.
Photo Credit: Poonam Agarwal