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Taking A Break – The Importance Of Rest And Reflection In The Small Charity Fundraising Cycle

Taking a Break – The Importance of Rest and Reflection in the Small Charity Fundraising Cycle

Like your small charity, we are a small entity at Nova Fundraising with limited capacity and constant pressure – whether we put it on ourselves to be the best we can, or whether it’s working to meet client deadlines, being responsive at the end of an urgent whats app, or getting funding bids submitted in time on behalf of clients.  We could easily stay ‘online’ and available 24 hours per day – and like you we too have periods of burn-out and we get run down. And we have most definitely been in your shoes, where the work is often, quite literally life or death and ultimately the charity beneficiary will sink or swim depending on the results of your labour.  We recognise that your work – fundraising, within a small charity – is SERIOUS and requires a SERIOUS mindset to make it happen. BUT – and this is a BIG BUT – for everyone – including chief executives, senior leaders, trustees and specialist fundraisers – it goes without saying that taking a break is also a SERIOUS matter.

Like us, are you wondering how you can get all your work done in May – with ALL of these bank holidays!? But, having taken a wee break ourselves over Easter, and observing that many of our client colleagues also took a holiday, we have been reflecting here at Nova Fundraising about how important rest and reflection are in the fundraising cycle and how they enable you to improve your donor stewardship, and potentially grow your income more effectively.  Here are our 5 top tips for we’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) on being kind to yourself whilst keeping those wheels in motion.

  1. Knowing when it is good enough: “Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good” – for some of us that is easier said than done (we’re looking at Nova perfectionalist Emma Low!), but really, sometimes just getting that bid out the door, picking up the phone or reaching out and organising that coffee is what needs to be done and we can often over think things which leads to inertia and fear of ‘what ifs’. So seize the moment, bite the bullet!
  2. Being your authentic self: Its Ok to feel overwhelmed, it’s OK to not have all the answers, It’s OK to feel afraid or out of your depth at times and above all its OK to be open about this and ask for help or support when you need it. We are only human and we are all doing our best (and usually more than our best, quite often!). Being open and honest when things are getting too much – this isn’t a weakness and others will understand and likely have been in your shoes and want to help you.
  3. Learning to delegate (upwards, downwards, sideways): Delegating can sometimes feel like being bossy, or if you are a perfectionist you may think its quicker/ easier to do it yourself. Or if you’re honest with yourself – maybe just prefer to retain control. But is it the best thing in the long run? When we delegate, we give ourselves the space to focus on the really big stuff we should be focusing on, we empower others to gain new skills/ experience, and sometimes actually another person might be able to get it done better, quicker or with less emotional ‘baggage’. Delegating isn’t always linear either. Yes, you could delegate to someone you line manage, or a volunteer, but also think, who else is in your organization that can play a role in supporting fundraising, such as your Trustees?
  4. Resting within the work-life-balance: With endless zooms, meetings and an ever growing to do list, it can be easy for 8 hours to pass and realise you’ve been stuck at your desk for most of them. Make the time for small breaks from the screen and activity. Whether it is starting your day with a run, a dog walk at lunch time, a spot of weeding in the garden, or reading a book away from the desk with a coffee for 15 minutes. When we are busy we often don’t make time for the important things that really revitalise us and refresh us and that can also fuel our creativity and energy to give the best of ourselves at work and at home.
  5. Holidays – a chance to see your charity from the outside: Have you ever had those light-bulb moments from a deck chair in the sun, or come back to the office after a break and been able to look at a challenge in a whole new light? Yes, us too. Sometimes distance and space is exactly what you need to look at things from a new angle and mindset. So make sure you schedule these in!

Right, we’re off to enjoy the first of 3 bank holiday-weekends. You’ll find us away from our laptops, with our dogs, families, gardening tools in hand – and most-likely a gin & tonic or a beer! See you on the other side, refreshed and rejuvenated.

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