With all you have spinning around you right now, it might feel like things are a little out of control.

I know I’ve been there. After all the follow-up calls, thank you notes, meetings, and additional busyness of the holiday season, I used to feel burnt out and scattered, which made me feel even more overwhelmed. 

But guess what? There actually is something you do have control over that can help you be present during this busy fundraising season. Something that will make a significant change in how you interact with your work and your donors. 

That something is the practice of gratitude. 

Gratitude can be defined as a quality of being thankful. That sounds so very simple. And yet, applying thankfulness shifts us into the moment and into an energy of hope and positivity. Interacting with tasks and with donors from a present, positive space lowers your stress and allows more intuition and possibility to flow. Imagine how your thank you notes or calls will feel to donors when they are coming from an energy of gratitude. 

And it’s good for you too. Research suggests that practicing gratitude has health benefits in addition to making you feel good. It helps your immune system, lowers blood pressure, supports better sleep, and reduces your anxiety and depression. 

Bringing gratitude into your day regularly is going to take some practice, but eventually it will become a natural part of you and something you won’t want to go without. 

When you first sit down at your desk or dining room table, getting ready to jump into your task list, take a few minutes first to be in gratitude. There are many practices for doing this, so feel free to find a different one that resonates with you. It’s about tuning in your heart to the beauty, love, possibility, and the goodness in others and our world. Being in that energy shifts how you feel and how you show up for others. 

Let’s try a quick exercise to bring you into a place of gratitude: Think of a person (maybe a donor) you are thankful for. As you close your eyes and slow down your belly breathing, tune into the goodness and beauty in that person and how it makes you feel. Tune into why you are thankful for that person and what gifts they bring. Notice what that gratitude feels like in your heart and body. Repeat this with several people until you are tuned into feelings like thankfulness, aliveness, kindness, love, and appreciation. Coming to your tasks for the day from this space gives you more openness and resilience. 

And it’s not only a feel-good practice – gratitude is a powerful tool when facing a challenge.

As you go throughout your day, when you start to tighten up because of a difficult task or frustrating person, you can stop for a moment and tune back into that energy of gratitude. Go back to people who you are grateful for, tune into that feeling, and then bring that attitude of gratitude to whatever challenge you are facing. Focus on the ways you are grateful for the opportunity that problem or person brings because they are giving you a chance to learn and grow. Send that situation or person gratitude for being who they are and here at this moment. 

I can’t say that your challenge or person will automatically stop being annoying, but shifting into gratitude gives you space so you can access more resources and lowers your anxiety giving you a much better chance of finding your way to resolution.

Think about this being a muscle you are developing.

You don’t walk into a gym and start dead lifting 300 lbs, so don’t start doing this practice with your most difficult family member or donor. Start first by building a connection to the feeling of gratitude in your whole being so that you can more quickly tune into that space throughout the day. Then practice on easier subjects and situations until you start to see how it can have an impact. 

I want to conclude by saying I am so deeply grateful for you. I see your deep passion for your mission, how much you want to do a good job, how hard you work, your kindness and patience with challenging donors, and how you bring your many gifts to the work you do. And I see your days where you procrastinate and don’t get anything done, the times you are incredibly annoyed by a donor, are feeling competitive with or fearful that other fundraisers are doing a better job than you, or even lacking compassion for others. I see you and I’m deeply grateful for you being a whole human, a real human, an imperfect human that still shows up and makes the world a better place. Thank you.