It happens slowly. You start out with new ideas every day for communicating with and engaging your donors. You’re excited by the interactions you have with people, and you’re actively listening to your donors as they reveal their passions and interests. You’re creative in coming up with offers that inspire them to give greater gifts.
But something happens over time, where your spirit begins to fade. Perhaps you notice that your manager isn’t as engaged as they used to be with your work, and that affects you a bit. Maybe you’ve had a change of leadership at your organization, and the new leader doesn’t seem as passionate about the mission, or they don’t seem to want to engage with donors. Or maybe a donor that you’ve been cultivating has checked out and won’t get back to you anymore.
Over time, these setbacks start to influence your morale, and if left unchecked, they could eventually kill your passion and imagination for your work. Richard and I have met with many front-line fundraisers who have experienced this. Perhaps you’re starting to feel this way – like you’re losing some of the enthusiasm you once had.
However, now is a new “season” for your work. You’re approaching the busiest and most active time of the fundraising year. How do you get that imagination and passion back?
- Put a structure in place for your work – Assuming you have qualified donors in your portfolio, tier them A-C, and make sure you have revenue goals for every donor that has not given yet or is likely to give another gift, especially from October through December. Create a communication and solicitation plan for those donors.
Here’s the thing about regaining your passion and imagination as it relates to structure. A structured process gives you the time and freedom to be wildly creative in the context of your plan. I know it feels counterintuitive, but Richard and I have been preaching this for over a decade and it’s proven true time and time again. A structure to your work as a front-line fundraiser gives you more freedom.
- Focus on your donors, not things you cannot control – If there are “distractions” that are bringing you down, try and release those because they are out of your control. The only thing you can control is working your plan and figuring out different ways to inspire your donors. Remember why you are in this line of work: to bring together your donor’s desire to change the world, and the need your organization is addressing. Focus on that for the rest of the year.
- Get in touch with the need – Richard writes about this all the time. If you ever feel you’ve lost your imagination for this work, getting back to the need your organization is addressing will reinspire you. Take a few days to volunteer in your programs. Get in touch with the pain and need. This will help you to communicate with much more imagination for your donors.
- Let go of fear – Whatever is preventing you from being your best for your donors, I’d bet that much of it has to do with some sort of fear you have. Whether you have a fear of being imperfect, facing rejection, or of the unknown, that fear has the ability to bring you down. If you’re going to be effective between now and the end of the year, you have to name the fear and move through it. Your donors and your organization will have more joy and success because you were able to let it go.
There are many good reasons why you may have lost some of your imagination and passion for your work over the last 18 months or so. But the question is, do you want to regain it and reignite that passion and imagination? I feel you owe it to your donors, your organization, and most importantly to yourself to find it again as you embark on one of your busiest periods of the year. Take some time right now to check in with yourself. What do you need as you prepare for the fall and the end of the year?