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Don’t Be A Lonely At The Top

Don’t be a lonely at the top

One of the amazing things about having a business partner is having someone who has got your back – from the day-to-day tasks, big decisions and of course when it comes to holidays! Between us we’re lucky enough to be taking some annual leave over the summer- catching some sun (and avoiding the rain in the UK!) and generally just re-charging our batteries. Having two of us means we can work it, so that we cover each other’s leave, which is a wonderful position to be in, but it also means solo working and all the challenges that come with that.

Having been sole fundraisers in our own careers solo working isn’t new for us and we know that many of our awesome Small but Mighty Charities have small teams, which means you may be a sole fundraiser, a busy CEO, or an over-stretched Trustee even. When you have sole responsibility for your role – whether it is fundraising or running the organisation, that can be lonely and at times overwhelming, which is why we wanted to share our top tips that we’ve learned from being sole fundraisers (and sole business owners).

  1. Be intentional and Plan

“Intentionality” – yes, it’s that Nova Fundraising buzz word again, but we can’t stress enough how important it is to be intentional with your time – especially when your time is limited and you have so many things on your growing to do list. Do you have a clear plan for the year, quarter month, week and even today? Breaking down those big tasks into small actions can be helpful and keep the end goals in sight. When Emma and Emma-Louise are together we’ll often share tasks and then prioritise them and divide and conquer. When you are alone it can be harder, but there are some great tools out there- whether you like to keep everything online (we are big fans of Asana to manage our tasks and projects) or like good old fashioned paper lists and to do notes. Writing everything down and then prioritising them according to how urgent and important they are, according to your plan can help sort those small tasks which can wait to those big frogs to be eaten. We like the Eisenhower Matrix for helping to prioritise tasks – why not try it out- we have a free downloadable version here.

  1. Eating your frogs

It can be easy to nibble at those lovely easy tasks when you have a long to do list, but what about those big horribly important tasks? You know the ones you put off but know you MUST get to! Mark Twain once said, “Eat a live frog every morning and that will be the worst thing that happens to you!”. Put simply- get that big task that you have been putting off done BEFORE any other work and everything else you do for the rest of the day should be a breeze! If you find that challenging, how about holding yourself accountable, by sharing with a colleague, friend or partner the task you want to get done that day and asking them to check in on you later! Why not share your frog with us and we can check in with you?

  1. Add Power to your elbow

“Teamwork makes the dream work!” Who else is in your team that can add power to your elbow? If you are a community fundraiser overwhelmed by the number of presentations in your community to attend, is it time to get an army of engaged volunteers on board to help amplify your voice? Are your board of trustees supporting you, by attending events on your behalf or thanking key donors? Can you have a thank-a-thon in the office to help boost your donor love efforts? Not only can getting others on board relieve some of the pressure from you, but it’s a great way to get buy in to fundraising!

  1. Schedule in breaks and re-charge

Never be too busy to prioritise your health and wellbeing! Easier said than done and we can be the first to confess to being on zooms all day, missing a walk or grabbing bad food because we’ve been too busy. In the short-term, it doesn’t help and you leave your desk feeling frazzled at best. In the long-term it’s a recipe for burn out. Make sure you pop in NON NEGTIOABLE breaks- whether it is a nice lunch, walking the dog or an exercise class. Pop them in the diary and treat them like you would your most important meetings.

  1. Celebrate your wins

It’s easy to focus on the growing to do list and what you haven’t got around to doing as opposed to all those amazing achievements and things you HAVE done. Take a breath at the end of the work and focus on what you achived, the frogs you have eaten, great feedback from a donor or colleague and write it down, celebrate it and revel in it. Why not share your wins with your friends at Nova Fundraising? We love nothing better than hearing our small charity partner’s successes- and it doesn’t mean a big donation- it could simply be eating that big frog you have been putting off? Tag us or email us for a big cheer!

  1. Find your tribe

Just because you have sole responsibility for fundraising or are a CEO, doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. When we look back at our career as sole fundraisers, the one thing which really helped was finding a tribe. There are so many places you can find yours, from the Chartered Institute of Fundraising Groups, Fundraising Everywhere and right here at Nova Fundraising – don’t forget our monthly surgeries are free and here to provide a safe and supportive space to learn and build your own tribes and Nova Fundraising have your back, so email us if you would like us in your corner!



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