Lost the Luster? 3 Steps to Bring Back the Joy of Fundraising | npENGAGE

Lost the Luster? 3 Steps to Bring Back the Joy of Fundraising

By on Sep 25, 2017


A nonprofit fundraiser suffering from fundraising fatigue

Earlier this year, I realized I needed a break. I was the proverbial mouse on the wheel, constantly racing to “keep up” with everything I needed to know and thought I should do in fundraising. In short, I had lost the joy of fundraising because I was bogged down in the job of fundraising.

I decided to focus on what I loved—copywriting and teaching—but take time off from the many worthwhile e-newsletters that I receive every weekday, cut back on writing articles and spend less time examining the dozens of fundraising appeals I receive every week online and in the mail.

Are you experiencing fundraising fatigue right now?

Are you dreading yet another fourth quarter filled with many opportunities—but also too much to do? Does your message sound—to you—like an endless loop of “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”? If so, my journey back to joy—albeit a bit differently shaped than before—may give you a map to adapt for your own needs.

1. Stop feeling guilty.

I admit it—I felt morally obligated to read (or at the very least, skim) every newsletter about fundraising, marketing, boards and nonprofit trends that I could. What if I lose my edge? Become irrelevant? Or worse, miss reading about the “big thing” that everyone else is talking about? The truth is, I’ll never know everything about every aspect of fundraising and nonprofit management – and that’s OK. If someone asks me a question or I hear something I am curious about, I have an entire Internet of information I can access to catch up.

2. Start focusing on what you are passionate about.

Truth be told, I’m not really all that good at some aspects of fundraising, and others just don’t interest me. That’s really OK. Abraham Lincoln failed in business. Winston Churchill did poorly in school. Alexander Graham Bell was weak in math. I’m happiest when I am writing for a client that I totally believe in, one that stretches me to think about a cause that is unique (to me) or one that is hungry to learn what makes fundraising work. That’s why one of my favorite projects in the past few months was writing an appeal for a historic cemetery. I’d never done that before, it was a challenge to tell a story but not be either flippant or morbid, and the client didn’t micromanage the copy. An added plus—I grew professionally through the writing assignment.

3. Create your “new normal.”

I’m eager to read some publications again. Others left no apparent gap in my life so it’s OK not to read them. I’m more selected about webinars and conferences; I’m going to make sure the ones I invest time in are the very best for me, not simply where “everyone else” is.

Bottom line? I love fundraising—but not when it becomes a job and not a joy. So I may not be as high in Google searches or as prominent in publications. That’s OK—I’m too busy having fun as a fundraiser.


Pamela Barden, CFRE, is a Direct Response Fundraising Strategist and Copywriter. With a professional career in strategic fundraising that spans 35 years, Pamela brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to working with nonprofit organizations.  She specializes in writing fundraising copy, P.R. materials and instructional articles, as well as developing and executing fundraising strategy.

As Vice President and Group Director at Russ Reid (2006–2009), she was responsible for the management of the largest single account for this marketing agency specializing in nonprofit fundraising.  Her nonprofit experience includes leading the fundraising work for International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (2001–2006); World Relief Corporation (1988–2001) and Youth for Christ/USA (1979–1988).

Pamela is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), an Advisory Panel Member for Rogare: The Fundraising Think Tank of the Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy at Plymouth University, winner of a Gold Award for Fundraising Excellence and an ECHO Award from the DMA, a Distinguished Instructor for UCLA Extension, adjunct instructor at University of La Verne and a weekly columnist for “Today in Fundraising.”

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