10 Points for a Midyear Personal Checkup
It is midway through the year. I am in disbelief! Next week, I will share a midyear checkup list for your fundraising.
You are in the trenches. This is noble work—a great calling. But I have yet to meet a fundraising professional who did not feel a bit overwhelmed. The average tenure in our profession—well, it’s less than three years.
So with a lot of pressure to meet goals for your worthy cause, let’s talk about you.
Take care of yourself first. If you are not at your best, then you’ll be facing even more challenges.
When I accepted a job as chief development officer at an organization, I quickly became deeply concerned. Reported campaign numbers were not accurate. There were no true development systems in place. I worked to fix this for more than two years without taking vacation time. Seven-day work weeks were my norm.
The reality is, while I was well-intentioned, this was not positive for me or the organization. I was worn down and lost time to spend with friends and family. The organization never fully realized the issues that truly needed to be dealt with.
Here are 10 personal development points to review here at midyear:
- Check your vacation days. If they are not bankable, be sure that you have a plan to use them all this year. If you don’t feel like you can, then there are organizational issues (or issues with your performance) that need to be addressed.
- Make a list of the books you have read this year. Make a list of the books you will read—or listen to—this year. Make it a mix of fundraising and nonprofit resources along with other disciplines, especially business, and then some for your personal enjoyment.
- If you travel often, think of how you can maximize that time. How do you use drive and fly time to increase your personal and professional development?
- Think of who would consider you a mentor. Reach out to those you are mentoring and set a breakfast or lunch visit. Be sure that you are mentoring others.
- Think of your mentors—reach out to a few and ask them to visit. Take an hour and write a handwritten thank-you note to all of your mentors.
- Take an hour and update your resume and LinkedIn profile. If you don’t do this regularly, you can lose track of achievements. It never hurts to be ready when an opportunity presents itself. Being proactive on LinkedIn is a superb networking tool. Be sure you are scheduling at least two networking visits or calls each week.
- Take stock of your exercise plan. Mine is still suffering from a broken ankle, but it is time to get very strategic about fitness. Be sure that you are exercising regularly—set goals and find a friend or friends to accompany you on this lifelong journey.
- How are you making your family a priority? That includes a spouse/partner and children, as well as extended family.
- How is your work-life balance? I realize the demands of the profession. And I know that, like entrepreneurs, many of us work 60 to 70 hours a week and more—and often seven days a week. But be sure that you take at least one full day away from work each week. It does make a big difference. If after two or three years at a position, you are still putting in those long hours, then something needs to—and has to—change.
- Beyond serving as a mentor, be sure that you are serving as a volunteer. Choose the role you feel comfortable in, from front-line service to board member (keeping in mind your conflict of interest as fundraising/nonprofit professional). Volunteering will greatly benefit you—as well as those you are serving.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.