Note from Beth: Last week, I had the honor of teaching a master class at the International Fundraising Congress (IFC) on avoiding burnout for fundraisers with Corinne Aartman in Amsterdam. Richard Sved, a fundraising consultant from the UK, participated and wrote a reflection on the UK Fundraising Blog. He graciously agreed to republish it as a guest post.
Fundraiser, Heal Thyself! Guest post by Richard Sved
Dear reader, I’ve now been awake for 20 hours, as I begin to type these words. But I’m buzzing. My first ever day of IFC has been an uplifting, motivating experience.
All round the conference hotel, there are powerful slogans stencilled into the wall in capitals, attesting to the power and importance of fundraisers and fundraising, such as “Between us we change the world”. And it’s true. I’m sure it’s why I’m feeling energised, having practically got up before I went to bed. Fundraisers achieve great things, and there was vibrancy in abundance.
But we’re all working so hard. How can we take better care of ourselves? This was the subject of the masterclass I attended today, hosted by the warm and generous Corine Aartman, and led by the inspirational Beth Kanter. Fundraiser burnout is such an important subject. Kudos to IFC for finding space to devote to it. We don’t talk about it enough.
Because it is clear that our sector is prone to chronic stress. We can be affected by the vicarious trauma of exposure to the causes we represent. We can feel our work is under appreciated – we just bring in the money. We are frequently under-resourced. Because we are driven by our passion and our values, we can become over-invested – emotionally and physically exhausted.
This afternoon, Beth guided us through much of the thinking, the learning and the practical tips contained in her book, The Happy Healthy Nonprofit.
We discussed our stress triggers (such as deadlines, lack of self-discipline, struggles with mounting in-boxes), and looked at ways of working to manage our own physical and mental self-care.
I loved the final exercise we did in which we drew up a Self-care plan checklist, separated into five sections: self, others, environment, work and money, and technology, as well as steps we can take to try and achieve these goals. My first attempt is shown here.
So, bravo to Beth and Corine. If I was worried that there’d be too much theory and not enough practice here at IFC, that’s been thoroughly debunked. I’ve already got enough practical tips to last me many years, let alone the next three days.
So, people, let’s remember that in our efforts to change the world we mustn’t neglect our own selves and those around us.
Fundraiser, heal thyself!
Richard Sved has worked and volunteered in the charity sector for over 20 years. Prior to setting up his own company, 3rd Sector Mission Control, he led the fundraising function for two national charities. He is also an NCVO consultant, and was recently interim Head of Fundraising at Epilepsy Society and Education Support Partnership. Richard’s key strengths lie in charity strategic planning, income generation and communications. He blogs regularly about the charity sector here.