Don’t give up. There is indeed light at the end of the tunnel. In most cases, the light is closer than you think, and will take less hoops to jump through than you think.
In my experience with nonprofit fundraising both as a paid employee with nonprofits and in my current roll as a consultant, I have seen how simple actions can take a person or a team from feeling a sense of impending doom to celebrating the availability of more program work because of fundraising and relationship building successes.
Don’t give up.
There can be an endless list as to why we begin to feel hopeless. A board member leaves a long list of complaints via a voice mail. A major donor tells you they have decided to give to another organization. Your calendar is full and you are tired of missing dinner with your family every night. The budget you inherited does not match reality. Morale seems low. There is no real support for your personal or professional success. You can never seem to catch up or get unstuck.
And no, I’m not talking about nonprofit professionals engaging in pity parties. I’m talking about the reality of our nonprofit world. Even among with all of these challenges and seemingly little support or buy-in, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Don’t give up.
Here are a couple of ideas that have helped me in my time as head of fundraising, and also ones that have supported my clients:
Create a group of fellow nonprofit professionals that you can have coffee or lunch with once a month. I do this even now and I find it super helpful. Knowing you are not alone and that others have similar challenges can be a big deal. This idea is part of a bigger idea of surrounding yourself with people you admire, learn from, and who have your back. This makes every day easier and more fulfilling.
Share your challenges with board and staff. Engage with them in how they can support getting to success. Ask for help. Most board members want actions they can take, and they also want staff to be successful.
Does your desk look like this photo? Clean it up. I know, you read somewhere that a desk like this means you are an awesome and productive leader. I don’t believe that. I think a desk like this adds to one feeling overwhelmed. I’m not thinking spotless, just more organized.
Don’t engage in negativity. Don’t buy into it. Be kind and supportive to others. If you lead a team, be accountable for their success. It is easy to complain and demean others. That serves no one, especially you. Don’t do it.
It’s OK to say that you don’t know. I often use the hash tag #alwayslearning because I learn something daily. I have years of experience in nonprofit fundraising, and still have so much to learn.
Lastly, believe in yourself. You are indeed a rock star. Your passion for changing the world, your positivity, your experience and your wisdom all add up to being successful.
Thanks for reading!