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Self-care is not an option

Ask any fundraiser why they chose this line of work, and it’s likely due to the desire to help others … to make the community a better place. The motivation typically does not come from a desire to personally benefit from their life’s work.

But is all this selflessness putting a shelf life on our career choice? The recent survey of more than 1,000 fundraisers in the US and Canada conducted via the Harris Poll for the Chronicle of Philanthropy and the Association of Fundraising Professionals provided some sobering insights about how unhealthy our colleagues feel:

  • 84% say they feel “tremendous pressure to succeed.”
  • 55% say they “often feel unappreciated” in their work.

Source: “51% of Fundraisers Plan to Leave Their Jobs by 2021, Says New Survey

With feelings like this, it’s not a surprise that 25% are “very likely” to leave their jobs and 26% “somewhat likely” per the survey. So how can we be proactive and avoid this burnout? Several colleagues offer their advice:

“I do try to follow Penelope Burk’s advice of beginning and ending each day by thanking a donor. It helps me keep the joy in my work. If you’re speaking purely non-work, for me it’s all about regular exercise. I need to sweat and get out of breath regularly to stay sane and balanced.” – Madeline Briscoe Smith, Girl Scouts of Southeast Louisiana

“This is becoming a big thing for me, as I’m noticing how lacking self-care is in our industry (especially in my team). Here are my big ones:

  • Eat 3 meals a day, real food, none at my desk.
  • Move around. Walk, run, yoga, lift weights, boot camp, dance, whatever, just MOVE.
  • Coffee is good, but so is water. More water than coffee.
  • Journaling. I do at least 5 minutes per day, pure stream of consciousness to start, getting the day’s aggravation out of my system.
  • Meditation. 15 minutes when I get home. No exceptions.
  • No work e-mail after dinner. In the rare event something absolutely has to be done between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m., I’ll get a text–and honestly, how much that comes up after dinner time legitimately cannot wait until morning?” – Steffanie Brown, Florida Institute of Technology

“I make time for myself twice a week. Even if it’s eating Pinkberry by myself or taking myself to breakfast, I do it for me. A few hours to myself each week keep me focused and strong for the people I love and the people I serve. Janie Glade, Gladewaves

How do you make room for self-care? Would you or your colleagues like help in making this happen? Contact me to speak on this issue to your organization.

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