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Tips on Overcoming Fundraising Fatigue

Posted by Ashley Shaw on 1/31/18 10:00 AM

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As a writer, I sometimes go through this period commonly known as writer's block. It's part of the trade - that's why it gets its own name. However, I'm betting that many of you get something that I like to call 'fundraiser's block'.

What's this?

I bet you didn't really ask that because I'm guessing it's pretty obvious, but I'm going to tell you anyway. Fundraiser's block is that dreaded time when you just can't think about fundraising. Hopefully your event will plan itself because you certainly won't be able to do any planning. You wished you could plan the world's greatest fundraiser, just like you have "easily" done year after year for your entire career. But you've done it year after year for your entire life, so you're all tapped out of ideas.

It's awful! But it's also pretty expected. Everybody gets to this point of their career at some point or the other. We are, after all, humans. We can't just keep churning out idea after idea like some type of automatic butter maker. We have to stop and refresh now and then.

To help, I've taken some common techniques to overcoming writer's block, and changed them around some: now, they are some techniques to overcome fundraising block, so that you can get back to planning those amazing events you're known for.

Tips on Getting Away from It All

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Sometimes, the trick to getting into the rhythm again is to just take a step back and refresh by doing something completely non-fundraising related. This can be anything, of course, but here are some ideas that can help get you started:

  • Take a walk.
  • Read a book.
  • Pick up a hobby.
  • Spend some time with your family.
  • Go on a vacation (preferably tropical, exotic, or adventurous, but that's really up to you.)
  • Take a class.
  • Go to the movies.
  • Cook a fancy meal.
  • Go see a play.
  • Go do a scavenger hunt.
  • Hit up a rage room.
  • Throw some axes at an axe throwing facility.
  • Start boxing.
  • Do something less violent than my last three suggestions like yoga, meditation, or pilates.

Tips on Bringing in Outsiders

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Now that you've stepped away and refreshed, it's time to re-juice. Sometimes, all you need to do is get some help to get things going.

Create a team of people you've never worked with before (volunteers, family members, whoever. This doesn't have to be an expensive endeavor).

Why? Collaboration can sometimes get you going in ways you haven't gone in years. Someone throws out an idea that leads you to an idea that leads someone else to the best idea your organization has ever had. It's like an idea pin ball machine with everybody pinging off of each other so that you'll eventually hit the big scorer. (Or however pin ball works.)

Tips on Churning the Creative Juices

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There are three pretty common tips that you will always hear come up when you read tips on overcoming writer's block: freewrite, create routines, and read something inspiring.

All of these, modified, can also help with fundraising fatigue. Let's walk through them.

Freewriting. Freewriting is a technique where you sit down and just write for a set amount of time. You literally just put down anything that comes to your head, and you don't stop writing to read back what you've done or to edit. The idea is that somewhere in your subconscious is a great ideas or two lurking and ready to come out and while most of what you write will be awful, that one idea will shine through.

As a fundraising exercise, you can do the same thing. Sit down and write out ideas for your next event for a set amount of time. Try starting with five minutes and work your way up.

Just put down every idea you have no matter how ridiculous or impossible it is. "Let's have a fundraiser where we have a gala underwater with flounder as our guest and call it The Little Mermaid Ball." It made the list!

Don't think. Just write. Amid those awful ideas, there may be a gem. Or maybe an awful idea triggers an okay idea that triggers an amazing idea. But you won't know unless you turn off your inner critic and scratch below the surface of your imagination.

Create a Routine. Many amazing writers will tell you that the secret to consistent amazing writing is to do it every day in the same way. Maybe they wake up everyday at 4am, put on a tux, head to the woods, sit on the same stump, and start putting pen to paper at exactly 4:34, ending at 5:06. (That sounds strange, but I've heard stranger real ones. Writers are odd ducks!)

Yours doesn't have to be this crazy, but when you train your body to know 'this is planning time' it gets into the mode automatically. So try setting a time in your day that is dedicated specifically to 'idea sparking.' Then, at that time everyday, go to the same spot with the same materials - pen and paper, computer, typewriter, whatever you prefer, just be consistent. And plan!

Be Inspired. Writers need to read just like doctors need to watch someone else perform a complicated medical procedure before they jump into the surgery. In the same way, fundraisers need to be inspired by other fundraisers. Think about attending some events around you. What did you like? What didn't you like? Why or why not? Really study these events and look for inspirations (not ways to copy - just ways to be inspired.)

The Take Away

Hopefully you can do some of these and then get back out there on the fundraising trail.

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