Uh oh. We’re nervous and it shows. At least, that’s what our friends at Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy tell us. They report that the 2009 Summer Philanthropic Giving Index is hovering around 65.4 percent, that’s down from 82.8 percent last year. What’s the Index? Well, in short, it is the confidence that fundraising professionals have in their ability to raise funds from donors. It is based on two statistics in which fundraising professionals: 1) rate the current economic climate for fundraising at 58 percent (an historic low) and 2) rate their expectations for raising funds over the next six months at 72.8 percent (more than 13 percent lower than this time last year).
Perhaps we are nervous, but I question the long-term value of this worrying. After all, who among us got into the industry because we didn’t think we would succeed? I’m reminded of a clip from the Conan O’Brien show that my brother sent me a couple months ago. In the clip, comedian Louis C.K. says in regard to current feeling and attitude, “Everything is amazing and nobody is happy!” Louis goes to reminds us that we have a lot to appreciate about the world around us – life and technology have advanced in incredible ways and will continue to do so. Check the video out here: “Louis CK: Everything is Amazing, Nobody is Happy”
So if you are still flummoxed by the state of donor confidence and its impact on your work, here are four things you can do to help pull yourself out of this rut:
1. Accomplish something within the first hour of work. Shut off your phone or email, logout of Facebook or Twitter, and concentrate on getting at least one thing done. It’s amazing how motivating the sense of accomplishment can be.
2. Focus on the positive. There is always bad news out there if you go looking for it – so don’t. Think about the parts of your job that you really love and dedicate some time to them. We’re in the unique position in this world of positively impacting both donors and the clients or audiences our organizations serve. That’s a lot of good to go around. Your happiness and contentment may even be contagious.
3. Take a few minutes to celebrate your accomplishments. Take a moment at the end of the day to appreciate the good work that you’ve done and the best parts of the day. Sure, there are those days when the very best thing is the 2:30 coffee break. That was really good coffee, wasn’t it?
4. Repeat. They say that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Nor will we see an overnight shift in the how we feel about our daily work. But with patience, confidence, and a willingness to give ourselves a break, it will seem like no time at all.
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