Reflecting on 2012, With a Sigh of Relief

This is the time of year when we often do some reflecting and even come up with resolutions to improve in the new year. But I’ve learned over the years that this is also a great time of year to do a bit of self-congratulating. After all, if you don’t praise yourself for the small accomplishments, who will?
So, in the spirit of self-congratulating, here are some reasons to give yourself a positive annual review for the work you’ve done in 2012.

You made (most of) your due dates
As fundraisers, we live by the schedule. But with dozens of direct-mail letters, e-appeals, newsletters (both print and online), events, annual reports and proposals passing through our hands over the course of 365 days, there’s plenty of room for missing a due date.

Since Jan. 1, you’ve mailed, e-mailed, called and visited your donors, inspiring many of them to send in donations to help you carry out your important work. You may have been behind a time or two, but bottom line is you hit your schedule more often than not.

So, congratulations! You did a great job. A lot of money was raised because of your hard work and commitment to schedules.

Your mistakes were (usually) not life-threatening
Well, maybe you felt like your life was threatened, but let’s face it — most of our mistakes aren’t permanently on view. (Kills me to admit it, but our mail and e-mails all too often are thrown out or deleted.) Have you ever considered the plight of the person who carves the date into a cornerstone? A mistake there lives on forever.

Years ago, I sent out a direct-mail appeal to raise money for programs helping women in Mozambique whose husbands had been killed in the civil war. Paragraph two in the appeal asked donors to support our work with “war windows.” How that “n” got in there, I’ll never really know. But the truth is, other than me, no one remembers. The letter still raised money, and our projects were funded.

So here’s a reason to give yourself a high five. You made mistakes, but the good work your nonprofit does was still funded and the world is a better place as a result. Yeah, you!

You kept your head (most of the time) when crises were brewing
Oh, the tough life of a fundraiser. We finally get a vacation, and a major disaster that impacts our work occurs — and we find ourselves on our cell phones rallying the troops. (I once planned an entire response to a major disaster in between runs on the ski slope. Bet you have a similar story.)

Remember the Rudyard Kipling poem that begins, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you …”? That was you in 2012. As a fundraiser, you rose to the occasion and usually only suffered a meltdown in the privacy of the bathroom or your home.

You did great in 2012. Thank you for investing your life in fundraising and being a credit to our industry.

There are so many other things that you did in the past year that deserve praise. I’ve gotten you started on a list, but take a few minutes and add to it. Think about the money you raised and what’s different today as a result of your work.

You might not always feel you get adequate credit from your bosses, and your friends may make disparaging comments about your “junk mail” or e-waste, but that’s OK. You made a difference this year.

Thank you. And, congratulations, you!

Originally published in NonProfit Pro.

Author: PJBarden

With a professional career in strategic fundraising that spans more than 35 years, Pamela brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to working with nonprofit organizations. She specializes in writing fundraising copy, grant proposals, P.R. materials, instructional articles and blog entries, as well as developing and executing fundraising strategy for her clients. Pamela is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE); an instructor for UCLA Extension School’s Fundraising Certification Program and the University of La Verne, College of Business and Public Management; a frequent webinar speaker; and author of two online courses for UCLA Extension. Pamela earned a Doctorate of Business Administration in 2015; her doctoral project (dissertation) was entitled “Nonprofit Organizations’ Awareness of and Preparation for Legislation, Regulation, and Increasing Scrutiny.” She is a past winner of a Gold Award for Fundraising Excellence and an ECHO Award from DMA; recipient of a Distinguished Instructors Award from UCLA Extension; a weekly columnist for NonprofitPRO (formerly Fundraising Success); and a monthly contributor to Blackbaud’s blog, npEngage.

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