3 ways to wind down 2013

Congratulations! You've made it through another exciting, challenging, stressful, fun, meaningful year of fundraising and nonprofit management. Many fundraising experts have recently posted great articles about improving your efforts in 2014 or getting the most out of your year-end appeal. I'd like to augment their tips with the following bits of advice as 2013 comes to a close.

1. Reflect but don't stress.  There's a difference between number-crunching (e.g., how do our 2013 and 2012 month-to-month fundraising revenues compare?) and reflecting (e.g., what were the most memorable moments of our funding work over the past 12 months?). Take a bit of time to sit with either a notebook or a colleague to express your general thoughts. Do you want to feel the same or differently about your fundraising work at the end of 2014 than you do now? Understand your level of satisfaction and comfort with how things went during 2013, beyond the hard results. Recall and celebrate the high points--no matter how big or small they seem. Perhaps a prospective donor you've courted for two years finally made a major gift. Maybe you launched an online giving mechanism. You possibly finalized your nonprofit's first-ever fundraising plan. These are all great things! Pause, breathe, celebrate!

2. Thank people. I'm not talking about the kind of thank yous that so often come in the form of freshly baked cookies or candy at this time of year. I'm simply suggesting a verbal thank you, and perhaps even a card or hug where appropriate, to your board members, staff, volunteers, donors, and community partners. People don't often receive a general "thank you" that's unattached to a specific task or donation. Trust me, they'll remember your unprompted moment of gratitude!

3. Unplug. Aside from the rush to finalize donations before the 2013 books close, very few pieces of fundraising work ACTUALLY need to happen right now. Most donors are focused on holiday prep. Lots of people are traveling. Some businesses are closed. Follow their lead and take some time for yourself. Amidst the holiday bustle, try to find quiet moments away from work. Get an extra hour of sleep. Read a gossip magazine. See a movie. Recharge now, because as always, fundraising in 2014 is going to start with a bang.

Wishing you and yours a very happy, peaceful, and fun holiday season! Thanks for journeying with me on the road to Fundraise Well.

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