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Pep Talk for Fundraisers

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dear fundraiser

Fundraising takes a truckload of guts on a GOOD DAY.  

Enter a global pandemic none of us were prepared for?

You may feel like you are eating overwhelm for breakfast.  

Your job just got a lot harder.  

There’s the first layer of the sudden change in your immediate surroundings. Your whole life and sense of normalcy are turned upside down. Suddenly doing your job from your bedroom, basement or kitchen table potentially with a partner, spouse, multiple kids and or pets underfoot.  You may be grieving the normalcy of your prior life. Just staying in and avoiding contact can be extremely hard but on top of that, you’re trying to keep your family safe and healthy and take care of loved ones.  

You may feel frustrated you aren’t more productive, creative, baking your own homemade bread, homeschooling super-geniuses or getting rock-solid abs from working out with all that “free time” you have.  

I’m here to tell you it’s okay. Let yourself off the hook. It’s normal to feel exhausted, drained or unproductive. Be kind to yourself. Practice self-forgiveness and accept that these are extraordinary times. You don’t have to come out of this fluent in a new language.      

We need you to take care of yourself, dear fundraiser, because there’s another layer of this crisis that you may be struggling with. As if the weight of all that on your mental health was not enough, you may simultaneously be contending for both you and your nonprofit’s professional survival.  

You may be facing well-intended board members, Executive Directors or CEO’s who may be new to fundraising and feeling especially anxious that “now is not the time to fundraise.”

They couldn’t be more wrong. Don’t believe me? Here’s a helpful video from Steven Screen explaining the three phases of a crisis and why it’s so important to fundraise now. It’s a must see especially for anyone opposed to inviting donors to help your cause right now.  

Your donors love you. Donating feels good to donors. When you feel paralyzed and stuck it feels especially good to be able to help. Let your donors decide to give or not give, don’t make the decision for them. You are giving them the opportunity to be the heroes that they are.  

How great is it that you have a job that gives people the opportunity to make the world a better place?   

You’ve never been more needed, dear fundraiser.  

Here’s a few mantras from some of my favorite fundraising friends:  

“Your mission didn’t stop, neither should your fundraising” – Adam Clevenger, CFRE 

Wake up every day and feed yourself the good stuff! Repeat Adam’s mantra: “My mission didn’t stop, neither should my fundraising.”  

When should you fundraise? NOW!  

Successful organizations haven’t stopped their fundraising. They’ve done more. Case in point: Humane Society of Northeast Georgia and their fearless leader, Executive Director Julie Edwards. Their fundraising revenue is double what it was the same period last year. 

What did they do?  

Since the pandemic they have sent 2 emails every single week (as well as their spring direct mail appeal). One email per week is an emergency appeal that asks for donations and the other is a feel-good stewardship email. In addition to the email appeals, they launched a peer-to-peer “Quaranteam” fundraising campaign which they kicked off with a video invite spoofing Netflix’s “Tiger King.”  

Bottom line, fundraising right now requires more guts than ever before.

But you, dear fundraiser, are no stranger to working hard. You’ve dedicated your entire professional life to making the world a better place. (Hey, not everyone is so noble!).  

You have a big mission.  

It demands more of you today than it ever has.

You are not here to play small. Don’t let other people’s fears stop you from serving your mission. Get out there as quickly as you can to communicate with your donors and raise funds.  

Yes, the best time was three weeks ago or two weeks ago but today is still a great time! If you put it off now and wait a couple more weeks to fundraise, you’ll run into #GivingTuesdayNow on May 5th when you’ll have stiffer competition for your donor’s attention amidst a surge of nonprofits sending communications to donors. 

My advice?  

Take a deep breath and repeat your new mantra “My mission didn’t stop, neither should my fundraising.”  

Fundraise today (it’s April 15th as I type this!) while your competition is lower and giving is still peaking. You can survive this. This could even be your best year yet, but fortune will favor the brave.  

Fundraising always takes bravery. Today might demand a little more of it but you’ve overcome obstacles before, and you will again. I have faith in you.    

As Mark Twain said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”  

Dear fundraiser, be brave, show that you deeply care about your donors and don’t stop fundraising.

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  • Rachel Muir

    Agreed! Way to go Joanne.
  • Joanne Kosciolek

    Don't take "no" personally. Anyhow, "no" just means "not right now". This perspective will help you move on to the next donor with a positive attitude!
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