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As a fundraiser, you work hard to ensure that your nonprofit has multiple sources of funding. It’s a crucial component of your organization’s sustainability.
But how often do you consider your own sustainability as a fundraiser?
The high rate of turnover among fundraisers is well-documented, and there are costs associated with this turnover. Each time a fundraiser leaves an organization, opportunities for cultivating and stewarding donors are lost. One of the best ways you can contribute to your organization’s sustainability, then, is to prioritize your own sustainability.
Multi-tasking really refers to task switching, and studies find that task switching reduces productivity. Switching among tasks is time-consuming and can impair cognitive ability. Instead, make a habit of focusing on one task at a time, even if it’s for a 20- or 30-minute block. You may find it’s helpful to batch your tasks to prevent yourself from slipping into multitasking. Batching your tasks lets you fully focus on one category for a chunk of time so you save your energy for the actual work.
Maybe you don’t have a system for sending acknowledgments, or the monthly report you prepare for the development committee is an overly cumbersome process. Once you’ve identified the most inefficient tasks, think about how you can reduce those inefficiencies. Dedicate some time to exploring software solutions or developing improved workflows. Make sure you have the tools and equipment you need to perform your job efficiently. The effort it takes to implement a new tool or system is well worth the time you’ll gain back.
Do you find yourself on a hunting expedition each time you need a high-resolution logo file? Add a folder on your computer to house frequently used items like logos, your mission statement, 501(c)(3) determination letter, current board roster, and program descriptions. By avoiding the frustration of chasing these items down, you’ll preserve your time and energy for more meaningful work.
It can be hard to explore new ideas when you’re juggling the priorities of each day. But the fresh ideas you pick up at conferences, workshops, or online may be just what you need to boost your fundraising efforts to the next level. They also keep you engaged, motivated, and energized as a fundraiser. Maintain a running list of these ideas as you come across them, and set aside one day each month to check them out. Allowing yourself the freedom to explore new ideas—and regularly scheduling time to do so—is a valuable exercise that will ultimately serve you and your organization well.
By taking steps to prevent burnout, you’ll be able to dedicate more of your energy and passion to the important work of your organization. That’s one of the greatest contributions you can make to a nonprofit’s sustainability.
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