Fundraising: Keep the Fire Going and Avoid Burnout!

Fund raisers have a tendency to burnout within a couple of years. It’s a tough job! There are so many moving parts and the kindling tends to weaken under the flame. When work, stress and pressure outweigh the enjoyment it causes a lack of energy and burnout surfaces.

How do you fight burnout?

  1. Delegate aspects of the program to your volunteers. New people bring different ideas. Delegating sounds easy enough but it does take a bit more work than just handing things over. There’s the letting go piece, training, and then being okay with how things are progressing. The fund raiser’s work doesn’t necessarily reduce but it does change and that can create a feeling of newness.
  2. Take each day in pieces! The full picture can be daunting. Small steps make adjustments easier. Keep a priority calendar and update it at the end of each day.
  3. Take a step back. I often talk about the V formation and how the lead bird falls back to let another bird lead for a while within a flock. You can do the same when you consider the V in V formation as volunteer. Stepping back empowers another person. It actually rekindles the flame and makes the program stronger in the end. This is not giving up your role but opening the door for someone to relieve you for the moment.

Let’s have some fun. We know what air does to a flame and I’m jumping into the ring of fire on this playfulness because I’m wearing my Air Jordans! The slogan “Just Do It!” comes to mind. Delegate, take each day in pieces, and work with your V (volunteer) formation to create success. It’s time to reduce burnout and go big!

High Five for Advocates in Fundraising!

The high five is when you’re in agreement on something. It may happen during celebration, or when there’s an idea floating around that’s been accepted. Even animals are trained to do the awesome gesture. It makes people smile!

Smile with me while I talk about Advocates, or the people helping you raise money. They are your volunteers. They share your information with the people they know, about the work you do, within their networks. At the end we will look at the HIGH FIVE, which are the five ways Advocates have said are the best ways for engaging them in your program!

Below are questions I was asked during a national conference call about Advocates a couple of years ago. I do not have the recording and so my answers are from the notes I wrote to prepare for the call. At the time there were 28 active Advocates helping us grow the fundraising program where I was working.

How do you recruit Advocates? They come through our networking events. We make sure to mention the Advocate program, and share the benefits of being involved. Our welcome person is an Advocate and they mention their role. Their excitement helps to engage others!

How do you train Advocates?  We provide all the materials they need to be successful. We visit with them over coffee and give them a description of the role, and the time commitment. They receive an Advocate packet, which contains all the information they need to share the mission with others. We also spend three months cultivating the relationship by having them involved in accomplishing tasks.

How do you manage Advocates? We host cultivation events outside of work at least one time each month. We send a weekly email that is fun! It is called the “Tuesday Pickle,” contains (clean) pickle jokes, AND serves as a reminder for people to invite guests to the next networking event. We have another Advocate connect with them to see how they’re doing. Sometimes there’s a mentor assigned. We ask them how they like to be recognized and what’s important to them. We follow through on those. We set expectations, provide tools for success, and they know the end goal. We empower Advocates to help us reach our goal by recognizing their strengths and giving them permission to use them.

Any other tips to share? Yes! Our strongest Advocates put together the following list after being asked, “What traits do WE look for in a person to find the perfect Advocate?”

  • A busy person
  • Passion about the mission
  • A leader
  • Relationship Builder – someone who networks
  • Willingness to try new things
  • Willing to stay in touch and communicate

How do you cultivate the perfect Advocate? You always maintain the mission of the organization and you do a HIGH FIVE!

  1. Train
  2. Invest in your Advocate and find out what motivates them (This is the “why they do what they do”)
  3. Develop a culture and get Advocates involved in events
  4. Show recognition and appreciation – ACKNOWLEDGE
  5. Camaraderie, inclusion, involvement

Good luck with finding the right group of people to help you move the mission forward. They are there, and they are ready for your high five!


My best to you for a great day!

The Best Style For Raising Money

What’s in and out of style? We know things change and today, at a much more rapid pace than twenty years ago.

I was reading online this morning about an upcoming fundraiser, which has to do with alcohol consumption and using a school bus for transportation. Do you know the song, “The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round?” Can you imagine eating outside a restaurant and a bus full of people under the influence of alcohol goes by singing the song loudly? Are you going to know they are in the process of raising money for charity? No. Are you going to have feelings about the school, which is named on the outside of the bus?

Another song is now top of mind…”Hop on the bus, Gus. Make a new plan, Stan.”

When you’re spending time developing a fundraising plan think about it from all angles, including how it might look to the donor you want to attract. A good plan considers these things:

  • How much by when?
  • Methods for raising money
  • Timeline for each method
  • Participants
  • Resources (current + what’s needed)
  • Tracking mechanism
  • Maintaining focus of your program with your team

I hope this article gets your wheels turning with thoughts on your fundraising plan! I certainly apologize ahead of time if your style involves school buses and, I won’t say the rest. This is another perspective to consider. Good luck with all you do today!

Developing a V formation to Soar with Fundraising

A leader for this article is the person leading a fundraising effort. There are times when this person may take a step back. There may be something that’s happened in their life and it needs their attention, or they may be planning a vacation. Whatever it is, the leader needs time away. Who takes over while they are gone? It makes sense to have the manager of the organization do it but they also have other things to take care of. Their other work doesn’t just disappear. What if the person leading the charge is gone for months and what if they never return? Donors tend to get concerned during this time if things begin to slip.

A “V formation” was discovered by accident because of a need for a leader to be in two places at one time. It’s about developing a system, which runs the same way with you being present as it does when you’re gone. It works because you have trained a volunteer team, and have given them your permission to continue the flight pattern without you when necessary. It doesn’t mean they take over your job. You are still needed to keep the moving parts in order. They basically have the ability to pick up and keep things moving for a time. And, because of the trust you have in each other. The program continues to grow and SOAR whether you are physically there or not.

Let’s compare this team concept to a V formation you may have heard of. It may help to explain it.

V Formation is a pattern most often used by a flock of birds. Birds maintain a healthy balance and do not get tired while flying because they lift each other up. Their wings create an updraft as the flock works together to reach its common goal. They soar.

Leaders and Followers are part of the V formation for birds. They have a leader at the head of the V formation and there are many followers, which form the flock. The leader drops back into the flock when they become tired. Another bird takes over the lead when this happens in order to continue the momentum.

Building a V formation for your fundraising efforts starts with you, the leader of fundraising. There’s a three step process, which involves meeting with a person you’d like to bring on board. I like to put the process into three months because it takes time to build relationships but you can change it. Each situation is different.

Month 1: Leader meets with an individual to learn more about them, listens to their ideas, and determines where the organization and individual overlap. In addition, they also share information about the networks where they each belong. This is considered a one to one (“1:1”) networking meeting.

Month 2: Leader supports the individual in ways, which are meaningful for them and adds value to their business or other interests. The Leader determines how this new person likes to be recognized, and provides network leads and opportunities.

Month 3: Leader determines the best way to integrate the new person into the formation as an Advocate and makes the ask with an established role already in mind.

Month three talks about having a role in mind for this new volunteer. You are encouraged to truly think through this and to be prepared. People want to know how much time they are committing to you, and what their job description looks like. The biggest and most important thing to remember is that these people are giving of their time to you and to your organization. This is energy they can spend elsewhere.

Continued success in maintaining your fundraising program. On a side note, this formation also works in business development. It is a great way to begin and sustain a partnership when the formation becomes healthy and there’s give and take on both sides!


1:1 Networking Meetings – FAQs

Through SOAR with Network Fundraising, a Leader meets with an individual to learn more about them, listens to their ideas, and determines where the organization and individual overlap. In addition, they also share information about the networks where they each belong. This is considered a one to one (“1:1”) networking meeting. It is the first step in developing a V formation.

Below are questions people have asked regarding these unique networking meetings. Hopefully, you find them helpful.

Why do I want to network? Networking educates people about your mission. Bringing people into your program begins by reaching out and establishing ways for them to be involved. Everyone learning about your organization has an opportunity to market for you.

How do I begin to network? You begin by inviting people to meet with you. Schedule one hour time slots a couple of times each week to get started. People like to meet for coffee.

I have a 1:1 networking meeting scheduled and the person hasn’t shown up. What do I do? Contact them to make sure they’re okay and still planning on coming. People get busy and forget, or the person may have hit bad traffic. A way to avoid a no-show is to touch base prior to the meeting to confirm the time and place. On the flip side, if you’re running late send a text or call the person you’re meeting with to let them know you’re on the way!

When are the best times to meet with people? People are generally available in the early morning prior to digging into their work for the day. Catching someone on their way into the office at a bakery is a nice offer. Truly the best time to meet with people is when they are least busy. It is okay to ask them what’s best for them!

Is it best to say I’m available anytime for a meeting or should I give a couple of time slots instead? I have always preferred going to a busy restaurant because then I know the food is good. The same is true here. A couple of time slots shows you are active and your time is valuable.

What is the best way to thank someone after a 1:1 meeting? Immediately! A good suggestion I heard through the fundraising grapevine is to keep note cards, stamps and blue pens in the car. During the meeting you can grab a business card and then when you get back to your car you can write a simple thank you note and drop it in the mail.

How do I set up a meeting with someone when they don’t return my calls? Leave a message letting the person know you understand they are very busy and let them know you’ll drop a hand-written note in the mail with a couple of dates for getting together.

If the person is part of a business, ask in your phone message if there is someone else within the organization you can meet with instead. The message could include that you’ll be in their neighborhood soon and you’d like to stop by to learn more about them so you can share their work with the many people you come into contact with.

What do I do when the person I am talking with has their own agenda and won’t listen? Listen to them and do not interrupt for up to 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or 15 minutes depending on the subject of their talk. Then, ask them if they know the time. You may have another appointment to get to and you can mention this now. In the time you have left, your goal is to steer the direction of the conversation. They are more-likely to let this happen now. Explain what you hope to “learn” from them. This may take the discussion format of FORM. Learning about family, occupation, recreation and motivation/message.

What happens when the person I am talking with asks me to support them in ways I can’t? Acknowledge their request with an understanding. It is always good to repeat what you think they want. Be clear on this before taking any action.


  1. It goes against your principles (this could also be a company policy): Describe this to the individual after expressing your sincere desire to want to help them. Ask if there is another way you can support them instead.
  2. What they are asking is impossible because you’re not able to do it: Explain this with genuine concern for their need. Ask their permission to share the need with the right person if/when you cross their path.
  3. Ask for time to think through it to see if there are other options you can think of. They can follow up with you or you may ask to follow up with them instead. This provides a another opportunity to connect and cultivate the relationship.

What happens if I do not have anything to offer a person I am speaking with because our interests and our businesses are so different? It’s okay to explain you are not sure how your interests and programs overlap. Ask the individual if they can see a natural path for partnering. It can spur conversation and ideas may come to you in the process.

How do I start a conversation with a busy person? Explain how you know they are very busy. Ask if they have time to talk now or would prefer a different time. If they say they have five minutes now – explain how the conversation is meant to be helpful for them and five minutes may not give them enough time to see the benefit. Then, schedule a time to talk over breakfast, coffee or lunch. People like to take breaks and these are perfect times to capture someone’s full attention.

Good luck and happy networking. Another article will follow as additional questions come in. You can send your questions to for answers as well.



Be The Change

What does it mean to be the change? Do you have to be super strong? Change is a word, which just sounds heavy to me. Maybe I’m thinking of the change in the bottom of my pocket, AKA coins. They are annoying when there are too many. Certainly makes me uncomfortable. How about you?

Let’s think of change for this article as making a difference.

Have you ever known a person who could not take care of themselves and there were no family or close friends to help? You may have taken them to a non-profit for assistance. And, they were treated well while receiving the services they needed so desperately. As changes in funding threaten the vulnerable, more and more non-profits will seek connections within their communities. They will do whatever it takes to keep their level of service consistent. After all, change can be annoying, right? Imagine having the same routine for years and years suddenly go away. It is frustrating and there is a feeling of loss. Now, imagine it is something you need for your health and well-being. Now, your life is at risk.

It is time for people to BE THE CHANGE, which makes a difference for non-profit agencies in their communities. This is a great time for assistance to grow and awareness to increase. Some things you can do:

  • Connect with non-profits to become informed about the work they do
  • Ask non-profits to tell you what they need most
  • Connect non-profits to resources based upon what they need

These three things can make a huge difference when you consider the changes they can make.

Non-profits spend time getting their word out. They are going to be delighted to have someone come to them and say, “I’m here to learn about you.” Your ability to be the connector for them allows their work to continue when it matter most. Being the change to make a difference is a great gift of time, which makes everyone feel good. Homes are happier, lives are fuller, and things coming into your life are greater than before.



The Home Run Covers All The Bases And Raises Money for Non-Profits

Are you currently covering all of the bases?

  • Analyzing the potential of a situation (first base)
  • Doing what it takes to make it a success (second base)
  • Going to bat for everyone involved (third base)
  • Bringing awareness in such a way that people WANT to get involved (home plate)

How about the teams? A person cannot play the field, hit the balls, run the bases and win. There is just no way to be the MVP, the all-star, the captain and all of the players by yourself.

We learned from Napoleon Hill in the last article about how a leader goes above and beyond (a Leader with Soar with Network Fundraising is the person building the team, V formation, for fundraising). We don’t want a Leader to burnout. When the ball is hit we also do not want it to go into the swamp where no one is able to go because the bases were not covered. Certainly, no one will dive into the swamp to retrieve it.

I recently spoke with a fund raiser about their program and discovered he was also the assistant to the director. He said, “We wear many hats and sometimes that involves taking incoming calls, doing paperwork for programs, and IT.” I nearly fell out of my chair. As a fundraising professional if I had to do IT (Information Technology) I would have hoped it meant Intellectual Training for knowing what to say when someone has an objection. There are ways to wear many hats and stay in control. The person I spoke with was having a hard time with it. We had a friendly discussion about how to make things easier. One suggestion was organizing the volunteer program.

Sometimes, a person is thrown out at first base when a team neglects to analyze the potential of a situation. Being honest with the true potential of people and programs is a part of analysis, which leads to success. This includes knowing the people wanting to contribute to your organization, through donations of money and time.

A person may be good at hitting the ball although the runner rounds first and goes a little wide to second base. The ball, which is grounded perfectly to the outfield gets thrown in. The second baseman has a solid catch and the umpire yells, “OUT!!” The team can be trained to run a straighter line, and to be attentive to what’s happening on the perimeter. They can be taught to be quicker to adjust. You don’t want to get into a pickle but if you do…play it out with the intent to be successful. Do what it takes to make your program a success.

A team member goes to bat for everyone involved, which in this reference is third base. There is a sincerity in action, character and utterance. When a team does this it is when people want to join. They see a player pulling for another batter even though he will have the highest batting average if he succeeds. There is sincere support for success because if the batter hits a home run, it is good for every one.

As the ball is hit and goes into the outfield everyone holds their breath in the stands. Will it go over the fence or will the player reach up and catch it? The batter is running as the audience is holding steady.

Home base is where the players have gathered to slap hands with the home run hitter. Yes, the ball was hit out of the park. The players at home base bring awareness in such a way that people WANT to get involved. This is when your team grows and the opportunity to increase potential exists.

Happy Memorial Day to you and your family. Enjoy ballgames and the winning run!