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!

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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!

 

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.

Blessings!

 

Driving Change For Positive Directions With Fundraising

Three months is a minimum time frame for implementing change in a fundraising program. Immediately, determine the condition of the program and why the change is necessary. Sometimes we make changes too fast without truly discovering the components of a program, which still work. The working parts are key to success during transition. It doesn’t mean they will remain forever.

Discover:

  1. What is working well in fundraising for the organization?
  2. Where are the immediate challenges?
  3. Who will approve the changes when they are requested?
  4. What is the timeline for the completed project and what is the “goal” for the first three months?
  5. What resources already exist and what will be needed?

Prioritize:

  1. Organize steps for making change
  2. Partner with others
  3. Create a logical sequence of events and determine the best way to keep the people involved informed

Implement:

  1. Bring resources (tools and people) into decision making discussions
  2. Set, review, and address expectations to keep everyone on the same page
  3. Course-correct when necessary

Note: The Leader of the organization must be comfortable with sharing responsibility.

Complete at least one phase of the project within three months and release people from their commitments as soon as possible. They can always say they want to remain involved and then, there’s a discussion to decide what participation looks like. It’s actually the first step in developing an advocate if this person is a good choice: 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.

When Fundraising Leaders Have Good Qualities Their Programs SOAR to New Heights

What it takes to be a true Leader, the one people choose to follow, is described in a book by Napoleon Hill. I would agree that a good Leader has the following traits. How do you stand next to this list?

  1. Unwavering courage based upon knowledge of self
  2. Self-control – a person who cannot control themselves cannot persuade others
  3. Keen sense of justice and fairness
  4. Sure of decisions
  5. A planner who works his plan
  6. Does more than what he or she is paid for
  7. Pleasing personality
  8. Sympathetic and understanding, knowing of their follower’s problems
  9. Master of details
  10. Willing to accept full responsibility
  11. Apply cooperative effort and induce followers to do the same

SOAR with Network Fundraising is based on Leaders being people of honor because they respect and appreciate the people helping them to raise money. Many times I’ve heard fundraisers say they have volunteers who do not participate. They do not do what they said they would. Take a look at #1 through #11 and if you can say, with sincere honesty, you are performing at 100%, then you have attracted the wrong person for some reason. It is time to have a discussion with them to find out what their motivation is, and politely thank them for their services if they are not inspired by your mission to do more.

There may be an item or two on the list, which you feel you can improve upon. Fantastic! Recognizing areas of development is always a step in the right direction. Everyday there are new lessons to teach and to learn. Life is ever-changing. Goals and missions course-correct. A good leader is willing to accept responsibility (#10) all of the time and this includes self (#1).

“The man who makes these (eleven factors) the basis of his leadership will find abundant opportunity to lead in any walk of life.” Napoleon Hill, Think And Grow Rich

A good leader attracts, and in the end flies to great heights in a V formation. Think of birds flying in a flock. They work together to soar. The networking arms of people do the same thing.

Good luck to you!