Let’s be brutally honest – fundraising is a pressure cooker. Get the funding or your organization cannot continue maintaining services (forgetting expansion). You might lose staff. You have board members who are breathing down your neck to ensure that you are meeting organizational priorities. It is no wonder that development professionals fizzle out and there is lots of transience in this profession. What can we do to stay on top of our work while also maintaining our sanity?

  1. Outline your plan – What do you need to do today? This week? This month? Start from the most important priorities and focus on these items. It is easy to get sidetracked, but you have to keep reiterating the message to others that if you can’t focus on these priorities, the organization will lose out.
  2. What are your tools? Are there technology resources, human capital, space, policies, or leadership buy-in that you can use to be successful?
  3. Share the load – The biggest misconception about fundraising is that it all falls on the shoulders of those in the Development Department, but we all know this is not the case. What can programmatic, financial, and administrative staff and volunteers do to help support you? Spell this out and delineate responsibilities to make it easier for others to understand.
  4. Separate – You have to find a way to ensure self-care or else you will be tired, stressed out, isolated and become disgruntled. Block off time in your calendar, download a meditation app or take a vacation day. Working 12 hours every day does not show your commitment to the organization but rather shows that your position is not structured effectively.

How will you try to reduce the pressure?

2 thoughts on “The Instant Pot of Fundraising: 4 Ways We Can Reduce the Pressure

  1. That’s great info. But what if you are a small all-volunteer nonprofit and don’t have a lot of people resources that can share the load? How do you begin to expand or increase your fundraising efforts? Feeling the pressure and don’t want to wear out yet sustain our operations.

    • This is a common question as I work with small and mid-sized nonprofits. Since you are run by volunteers, each of you has an equitable stake and investment in the success of the nonprofit. Are there certain tasks that can be shared (i.e. someone has strong financial skills and could be in charge of budgets, another person is a strong editor and could help draft or review materials, etc.)? I would also think about investing in some outsourced support. There are many things that a strong communications and/or development professional can accomplish at a diminished cost to at least get you started. This can include a brainstorming session, creation of a development plan, template language, etc. hopefully this will help you get started as you move forward.

      Thanks for your feedback!

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