Be Your Best as a Fundraiser in 2022

The Fund Raising School at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University at Purdue University (IUPUI), provides practitioners with weekly First Day Podcasts. These podcasts highlight current research on philanthropic issues. It gives me and my colleagues real-time information on a variety of topics.

As 2021 ended, I was burned out. I remember talking to my boss about a capital campaign issue. It was 4:45 p.m. on a Thursday and this day was supposed to end at 5 p.m. All I could think of was going home and sleeping. At that point, I walked into my office and listened to The Fund Raising School podcast entitled “Self-Care for Fundraisers.” The focus for this episode was on the end of 2021. While that was valuable information, it was more important to me to shift the focus of self-care for 2022, so my mental outlook could be reframed for the new year.

As I opened the pages to my 2022 work calendar, I was thinking how I could improve my outlook and focus for the new year. One major step for me was to take the ideas gleaned from research on self-care directed toward the end of 2021 and flip it to 2022. According to Dr. Matthew Glowiak, a clinical faculty member at Southern New Hampshire University, self-care may be defined as caring for yourself, but includes anything relating to health via body, mind and spirit. Self-care helps you to avoid burnout, depression, anxiety, resentment and other negative implications.

Elements of self-care include emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social and spiritual. Life is meant to be enjoyed. Self-care means taking care of yourself. This means doing whatever is needed to stay physically healthy including hygiene, nutrition and seeking medical care when needed, according to Everyday Health. Self-care does not mean the same thing for everyone.

Different people will establish different self-care practices. It is important to engage in self-care on a regular basis. There are distinct categories of self-care, such as emotional, physical, and spiritual self-care. It can be both temporary in nature and enduring over time. Research notes that practicing self-care is linked to a longer life especially when it comes to exercise, finding a purpose, diet, sleep and getting outside. 

The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), believes in fundraiser self-care. It involves an awareness of your desires, needs and triggers how you relate to life and work. Your own self-care affects you, your team and organizational outcomes. It affects your ability to have meaningful relationships with a variety of constituencies.

According to research, the average person makes 35,000 decisions a day. Do you want to make these decisions with a full or empty tank? You need to have a sharp mind, open heart, unobstructed vision, and front and center mission. Self-care helps you place your best foot forward.

Ways to practice self-care include checking in with yourself, paying attention to your energy level, nurturing your community, going on a decision diet, playing my jam, cozying up, getting up and moving. 

The Storytelling Non-Profit provided five tips for you to consider for year-end fundraising. I am flipping these ideas to the beginning of the year because these ideas should be utilized year-round. 

These tips include:

  1. Schedule time off now to plan non-work periods throughout the year.
  2. Decide your capacity for social engagements for maximum results.
  3. Set boundaries now so you do not become overworked.
  4. Set realistic expectations for yourself of what you can do and cannot do.
  5. Plan something fun throughout the year so you have something exciting to look forward to in the future.

Soapbox Engage also had some additional strategies for fundraisers to survive the year-end fundraising season that can also be applied to kicking off the new calendar year fundraising season. You need to make yourself a priority as you fundraise. Create a self-care plan now for the 2022 calendar year. Set your environment up for fundraising success.

Utilize technology and resources available for self-care. Keep self-care simple throughout the year. Check yourself frequently and know what you need for peak performance. Protect yourself by sleeping well, eating well and staying hydrated. Utilize techniques at work to improve your body, mind, and spirit. It is all about having a consistent cheerful outlook.  

Sharable noted four ways to bring self-care into your work. Use techniques to unplug during the day plus give your brain some down time from supreme focus to creative mindfulness. Seek to relax your mind and strive to be more creative. Tap into gratitude that this concept will provide better sleep, higher self-esteem, increased empathy and more resilience. 

Future Fundraising Now notes that to improve your work attitude, strive to succeed when you fail at work. You can do this by keeping a record of your wins, staying focused on your objectives and taking care of your health.  

Do you want to be your best in 2022? Take a moment and critique 2021. Do a SWOT analysis of yourself? Think about how you can improve your performance. Remember that your personal performance and results will dramatically improve if you give attention to your body, mind and spirit. You need positive energy to manage the continual stress at work. You need to relax your mind to filter positive from negative flow. You also need to relax your body and mind in a spiritual way.

The new calendar year is here. You hopefully had a few days to rest at the end of the year. Strive to employ self-care in your life going forward as it will recharge you in many ways. Happy New Year, and I hope this is your best and most rewarding year yet!