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It’s Time to Write Your Own Fall 2020 Survival Guide

In late July, my sister and I mustered the gumption to drive cross country to visit our parents in North Carolina. We quarantined ourselves before the trip and then took abundant caution along the way so we could arrive safely and not endanger our folks. I cannot even begin to express how precious it was to spend time with my family.

The last stretch of the drive was mine alone as I made the final trek home to the Boulder foothills. Those last hours were a mixture of gratitude, joy, and, I’ll admit it, worry.

I’m worried about my family, of course, in the middle of this darned pandemic. But, I’m also worried about YOU, Dear Reader.

I’m worried that you might be going into fall fundraising season already exhausted and burned out.

You’re a dedicated, creative, and energetic professional. And we need you to stay that way.

It’s time to craft a plan for yourself on how to get through the next four months and emerge sane on the other side!

Here are six ideas for your very own Fall 2020 Survival Guide:

1. If you haven’t taken a break yet this summer, do it right away. This is NOT optional. Will you come back refreshed? Maybe not. I confess, I’m still beat even after a few weeks of down time. But, your mind and your body need the rest. Just do it.

2. Have a heart-to-heart with your ED on the realities and unknowns of the fall season. If you’re scared, let them know. You do not have to bear the burden of uncertainty alone. That’s not your job. The pandemic is not of your making and nobody knows what’s going to happen this fall. Personally, I think you have a good chance of meeting goal. Donors will step up wherever they can. But, don’t feel you have to pretend everything’s hunky dory. That kind of “toxic positivity” it not helpful. Share your concerns and work together to prepare for whatever happens.

3. Release yourself from the Zoom trap. It’s just not good for us to be engaging in on-line meetings all day every day. It’s bad for our eyes, our posture, our brains. Not every meeting has to be on Zoom. Go back to conference calls whenever possible. At least then you can walk around a little while you chat and get your eyes off that screen. Speaking of screen time, schedule all meetings (Zoom or conference call) to start at 10 past the hour or end at 50 minutes past the hour. For heaven’s sake, a person needs to have 10 measly minutes to use the rest room and top up their coffee!

4. Engage in professional development. Attend coffee chats, brown bag lunches, and conferences to boost your enthusiasm and connect with others who are in the same boat. The Rocky Mountain Philanthropy Institute is a great option (I’m the co-chair so I know it’s going to be good!).

5. Protect next year’s development budget. If you end this year knowing you’re going to lose all your support, professional development, and other vital budget items next year, you’re just going to be miserable. Get out ahead of that and fight for the line items that will make your work manageable in January.

6. Negotiate the working conditions you need in order to succeed. Workers across the nation are struggling with the pressures of being parents, caregivers, and frankly, human beings during this pandemic. It is more than reasonable to ask for flexible hours, updated technology, or whatever else you need to ensure you remain productive.

I encourage you to sit down and write your own survival guide. Identify those things that you anticipate are going to be most stressful for you and create a plan for mitigating them. Encourage your team to do the same. 

As always, we know you’ve got this!

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