Fundraisers: 4 Ways to Stay Productive When Stressed

Sep 10, 2020Leadership

Fundraisers-4-Ways-to-Stay-Productive-When-Stressed Leadership

Are you struggling as a nonprofit leader to stay productive?  If so, that’s not surprising.

Listen to these survey results: 66% of people are reporting an increase in their stress level since the pandemic hit in March.

In addition, 44% of people now working from home say their mental health has declined. These findings come from Qualtrics.

Fundraisers are not immune to feeling stressed. 

In fact, you may have children at home or other family members also working remotely. Certainly, that means schedules are upside down, and balancing a new work style is challenging.

Furthermore, determining how often to communicate with your boss, co-workers, or board members is trying.

On top of that, you are trying to figure out the best way to engage with donors. 

As fundraisers, we like seeing people in person! That energizes us and makes us feel more connected – especially with our donors whose passion ignites us and reminds us of why we do what we do!

The bottom line is you are likely exhausted, frustrated, overwhelmed, and frazzled. You’re simply burned out.


To Stay Productive

So what can we do as fundraisers as we navigate this crisis, find a new normal, and get back on track to be less stressed and more productive during the day?

Needless to say, you want to remove the stress and be more productive. Because being productive gives you a psychological lift and combats stress!

Here are four suggestions to stay focused and be productive in your work life:

#1 – Plan Your Day to Stay Productive

Before you go to bed each night, establish your top three goals for the next day. At times, you may have just one big goal.

That way, you wake up the next morning knowing what your day will look like. It may be an important call with a donor, a proposal to outline, or a budget to review.

Definitely, set your priorities before each day begins.


#2 – Tackle Biggest Priorities First to Stay Productive

Remember Stephen Covey’s book, First Things First? With his introducing us to “The Urgency Addiction,” he provides a framework for deciding whether or not a task is urgent and important. It’s a 2 x 2 matrix. Indeed, this is your guide in determining where to spend your time. 

Clearly, these important and urgent tasks need to be tackled first before you do anything else. You don’t want to procrastinate your most important priorities.

#3 – Close Your Computer to Limit Hours

It’s important to limit your work hours. When you work from home, your work hours run into your personal time. No doubt, that’s not a good habit. 

To get a handle on your long work hours, first acknowledge that it’s happening. Let your staff know you will be closing down and sign off from work. Second, tell your family your work schedule and your plans to strictly adhere to the schedule.

No matter how much you love your job and believe in the mission, overworking does not serve you well.

I had a wonderful career in fundraising. When I look back, I wish I had dedicated fewer hours to work. 

No question, grit, determination, and persistence bring success. 

But if I could go back and give my younger self advice, I would 

  • remove activities not supporting the mission in big ways.
  • not say yes to projects just to be collaborative or please people.
  • not try to do it all at once. Know what’s important and do what’s important. That does not necessarily mean long hours at work.


#4 – Default to Over Communicate to Stay Productive

In this same survey by Qualtric, “38.2% of people responded their company has not even asked them if they are doing okay. . . ” since the pandemic.

Without question, this means a lot of bosses are not tuned-in to their direct reports’ stress levels and well-being. They are not likely good at keeping team members informed – not managing information, questions, and feedback.

If this is the case with you, you want to be transparent about your situation. 

In other words, let your boss know if you need stronger communications from them or the team. Maybe you lack information or resources to be productive. 

Whatever the reason why you have work-stoppage, be transparent, and communicate this with your boss. 


Simply Burned Out

In summary, we’re simply burned out. With canceled fundraising events and the pressure to recoup funds, it’s not surprising we are exhausted.

Let’s make some changes so we stay productive. 

Above all, let’s focus each day on our top priorities, set a work schedule and stick with it, and certainly let our boss know where we need help if we are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and unproductive.


Popular Blogs:

Finding Major Donors: 5 Steps for Your Nonprofit

Canceled Fundraising Events: 5 Steps to Recoup Money

Top 3 Nonprofit Fundraising Strategies in Times of Instability and Beyond

Nancy Rieves, Ed.D. is a fundraising coach. She provides executive and development directors with a roadmap to maximize and sustain major gift fundraising. She prepares leaders to be confident and successful in raising money. Reach her at nancy@nancyrieves.com.


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