A Lesser-Known View of Wellness

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA

Wellness usually focuses on your personal responsibility to stay healthy. There’s a bit of “blame the victim” syndrome in that.

I have a different view.

You see, my 25 years of fundraising leadership has shown me that 10 key organizational development touchpoints do more to keep you healthy and well than almost anything else!

I talked about these 10 touchpoints on a recent webinar, which you can watch at this link.

My view is that if you have agreement on these issues, then you have less stress. And when you’re feeling less stress, you can raise more revenue.

Here are the tips:

  1. You must know exactly how much revenue you’re raising, and what it’s to be used for. Yet, most fundraisers do not know exactly how much they are to raise. In listening to them I sense they are on constant engagement to raise an endless amount. That’s a recipe for burnout. If you’re always raising revenue you have not time to evaluate, analyze and reform!
  2. Your CEO must be 100% in support of the development plan that you have proposed. Yet, 40% of Development Officers tell me they don’t have a development plan, or if they do have one, it’s irrelevant. Further, what does it mean for the CEO to support our work? It means that they have a defined role for their fundraising engagement, a role that can take varied approaches: some CEOs get engaged over major gifts; others help the Board fundraise, others make sure you have the infrastructure budget you really need to succeed.
  3. Your Development plan must focus not just on annual fundraising to cover operational costs, and not just on special campaigns to raise capital, but also must include transformational fundraising to realize the full vision of your nonprofit. Most nonprofits do not have a plan for fundraising for transformation. This is very sad, and a huge, missed opportunity. In short, transformational fundraising is focused on very special gifts that jump start your efforts to solve the social problem set forth in your vision statement. Many fundraisers wonder why they get micro-managed. That can happen when we ignore the full capitalization required by the organizational vision. Those fundraisers that truly solve the capitalization dilemma, or at least make strides to solve it, gain a gravitas and independence that reduces stress. Nothing feels better than helping a nonprofit really have the revenue it needs to accomplish its vision.
  4. You must have the right development infrastructure in place which requires the right budget. Most nonprofits underfund the development function, and you should probably not work at such a place. That’s too stressful.
  5. I have found that to keep the job interesting, I have had to keep molting my job duties—flinging off those tasks and functions that don’t require my skills and talents, delegating them to someone else who has a passion for them, and move onto higher level work. Many fundraisers leave their current job and look to have those new interests fulfilled in the next job. I contend that you can likely stay put and get your needs met where you are, but you must ask for what you really want, and explain why it benefits the nonprofit for you to get it.
  6. Oversight committees (Development Committees that you report to) are a thing of the past. If you have a development committee, and they are oversite, but not actually raising significant funds, abolish it. Oversite is what you do with the CEO. You need a development committee that adds value, however you define that.
  7. You need a deep understanding that while raising more revenue is the fundraiser’s business, it’s not what brings us life sustaining energy! Achieving the vision of your nonprofit is the fundraiser’s holy grail.
  8. You get the Board you deserve. No one wants to hear that. It’s easier to stay on the side of the complaint that the board sucks; but it’s to your advantage to get the board that will really serve your nonprofit best at this particular time. Many of us suffer under a Board construction that fit the organization twenty years ago and stopped having relevance. That causes fundraisers a lot of bad stress. (Good stress helps us grow; bad stress brings us down.) I realize that the CEO is mainly tasked with supporting the Board’s growth and development, but the development executive has a role to recruit new board members among your top donors and funders. We fundraisers have a big role in board development.
  9. Time management is a real skill. You will want to only work on the tasks that bring your nonprofit the most revenue. And the work time you put in must not sacrifice your exercise, nutrition, and professional development. Time management was a hot topic in the 1970’s but it has gotten short shrift since then. That’s a big mistake. The fundraiser’s good use of time is primary for success.
  10. Lastly, technology management is a huge time suck if you don’t have good IT support. We live in a digital age.

What do think of my list?

Do you see how these organizational development touchpoints do more to keep you healthy and well than almost anything else? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Please forward this post to a colleague who may benefit from reading.

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