Posts tagged ‘vacation’

December 29, 2015

Avoid Burnout in 2016 with 3 Powerful, Simple Tips

The employee turnover rate at nonprofit organizations is shamefully high. A number of factors contribute to this, including burnout. While you cannot control all of the contributing factors, you can certainly manage some of them.

With that in mind, here are three powerful, yet simple, tips to help you avoid burnout in 2016:

Tip 1: Step back. Look at your organization in action.

As fundraising professionals, we spend a great deal of time focusing on tactics and numbers. There are good reasons for that. Effective tactics are essential for achieving fundraising success. Keeping careful track of the numbers helps us to know which tactics work best and indicates whether we’re on track to achieve our goals.

Binoculars by gerlos via FlickrUnfortunately, if we overly focus on tactics and numbers, we can lose sight of what really matters. Remember, it’s not just about the money you are able to raise; it’s about what that money can accomplish.

To help avoid burnout, make sure to take the time to plug back into your organization’s mission. Remind yourself of the good you are helping your organization to achieve by helping it secure essential resources.

If you work for a university, take a walk through campus and stop to have some conversations with students. If you work for a hospital, visit the maternity ward. If you work for a homeless shelter, spend some time in the kitchen preparing meals and then have a meal with some of the recipients. If you work for a theater, attend a performance, meet some of the performers, and talk to some members of the audience.

It’s important to keep in mind that you’re not just raising money. You’re helping your organization achieve its worthy mission.

Tip 2: Talk to your donors.

A great way to re-energize yourself is to talk with your organization’s donors. I don’t mean just talk to donors about their next gift. Instead, contact donors to thank them personally and learn why they support your organization. Their passion will likely inspire you.

Not only will you benefit from talking with donors, your organization will benefit as well. First, your organization will be less likely to have a staff member (you) burnout. Second, donors will be happy to hear from you and, as a result of the call, will be more likely to continue giving to your organization and more likely to give more.

For more about this, read my post: “The Greatest Idea for Retaining and Upgrading Donors.”

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August 27, 2012

Can You Still be Donor-Centered by Putting Yourself First?

This blog post is a major thematic departure from my usual articles.

Usually, I advocate, either directly or indirectly, for fundraising that is donor centered. My book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing, clearly emphasizes my belief in the importance of being donor centric.

This post, by contrast, is about you, your needs, and your happiness.

I got the idea for this post when I recently returned from delivering the keynote address at the AFP Memphis Chapter conference. (By the way, the folks there were wonderfully friendly; the food was amazing; and the sites were memorable. Memphis, home of the blues, should definitely be on your tourism bucket list.)

Anyway, I was on my Delta Airlines flight when I did something I have not done for quite some time. For some inexplicable reason, I actually listened to the pre-flight announcement. The flight attendant mentioned that if the air masks drop, each adult should put their mask on first and, then, help their child with his/her mask.

It got me thinking. To take care of others, we need to first take care of ourselves. 

I learned that lesson in 1983. Shortly after co-founding a pioneering direct response agency, I was a stressed-out frazzled mess. Thinking I really needed professional help, I went to a psychologist. At the end of the first session, the doctor asked me, “When was the last time you took a vacation?”

I responded, “My wife and I take a long weekend every so often.”

He said, “No, I mean a real vacation. When was the last time you went away for a week or more?”

I told him, “With the exception of my honeymoon, I have never taken a vacation in my adult life.”

“Well, I really wish I was videotaping this session for my students,” he said.

“Am I really that bad off?,” I asked with great concern.

“No,” he laughed. “You’re a perfect example of someone who doesn’t need therapy. What you need is a vacation. Take a week off. Better yet, take two weeks off. Don’t take any calls. Don’t bring any paperwork. Just go. When you come back, I think you’ll find you feel better. If not, then come back and see me.”

So, based on doctor’s orders, my wife and I went to a remote area of Jamaica for two weeks. For the first three days, I kept hearing the phone ring. But, it was all in my head. The nearest phone was actually 18 kilometers away from the house we rented. At the end of the first week, I was finally learning to relax. By the end of the second week, I was itching to get back despite having had a fun time.

When I returned to my office, I found I was more efficient than ever. Insurmountable problems I had left behind were easily dealt with. I felt like some kind of superhero. I was more creative, more productive. My stress level was at an all-time low. I became a convert to the idea of vacationing.

From that point forward, I’ve always been sure to take vacations and to make sure my employees also take advantage of their vacation time.

I’ve also always insisted that vacations should not include any business:

  • phone calls,
  • text messages,
  • emails,
  • paperwork.

A vacation is a time of escape, a time of decompression, a time to recharge. You simply can’t fully do that if you’re still connected to the office.

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